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#15: Should You Clap Back?? Responding to Negative Comments on Social

Responding to negative comments. Really, do the haters even deserve a response?? 💬 Consumers just aren’t emailing customer support like they used to. 😅

Instead, it’s commonplace for customers to comment on your most recent social posts or ads. Meaning, convos once handled in private have now become a public affair.

So, short answer: it depends. Slightly longer answer: listen to this latest episode of UMAI Social Circle. We’ve got all the tips, tricks, and examples you need for when the trolls attack. 👺

Let us break it down for you…

[0:45] Introduction. Responding to negative comments on social media

[1:22] Responding in general – impact and importance.

[2:50] More than a simple response – you’re building relationships.

[3:55] How much does responding to negative comments take?

[4:50] Who should be responding to negative comments?

[5:30] Let’s talk about responding to negative comments – rather than positive comments – specifically. The nuanced differences.

[8:30] What’s our procedure for responding to negative comments? You have to ask yourself one major question…

[11:30] Your responses matter – to more than just the person you’re responding to.

[11:55] Here’s a real world example of the value of responding to negative comments.

[14:00] Do you track or record comments anywhere?

[15:30] We play a game! To respond or not to respond… Several examples to apply to your own consumer goods brand.

[25:00] Finally, key takeaways.

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Read – #15: Should You Clap Back?? Responding to Negative Comments on Social

 

Narrator:
Calling all consumer goods business owners and marketing professionals. Does planning content ahead of time stress you out? Do you want to run Instagram and Facebook ads, but just aren’t sure where to start? If your answer is yes and yes, then our mini course was made for you.

It’s 100% free and packed with essential tactics that you can implement as soon as today. To join in, visit our website at UMAImarketing.com/minicourse. All right, let’s get on with the pod.

Alison Smith:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to UMAI Social Circle, where we talk consumer goods marketing tips to help business owners and marketers grow.

I’m Alison and that’s Karin, and we are co-founders of UMAI Marketing.

And in this minisode, we’re covering some tips on responding to negative comments you receive on social media. But before we hop in, if you like what you hear, please feel free to leave us a rating, a follow, or subscribe to our podcast wherever you are listening in from. Thanks so much and here we go.

Alison Smith:
So first of all, let’s talk about responding in general. I feel like it’s an easy thing to forget to respond to each and every comment on your social media. So Karin, how big of an impact or how important is it really?

Karin Samelson:
It’s extremely important. So, customer service is going to be one of the number one reasons that somebody that is following you decides to unfollow you on social. Or worse, stop buying your product or stop supporting you.

So, customer service is key for social.

More and more and more over the years we’re seeing people just completely forego going to your customer service at, or your hello at or your questions at email and just going straight to social. Dropping into your DMS, commenting on your posts, to try and get an answer to any of their customer service related questions.

Karin Samelson:
And, so especially if you have social handles on all sorts of platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, make sure that you’re at least checking those every once in a while, because even if you’re not active on a platform, one of your customers can be.

And, if they ask you a question on that platform and you don’t get back to them for a month, either they’ll think you could be out of business or you’re avoiding it, and you never want that to be the case. So really, really focus on good customer service for all of the platforms that your pages are on and not just responding with really vague robotic answers are straight from your FAQ.

Put some life and energy and personality behind it because you’re also cultivating those relationships. And, relationships are what is going to help drive sales in the future as well.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. So, interesting to think of social channels as customer service channels. And, we really are seeing that trend, that people are less and less reaching out via email and more and more are just… They’re already on the platform so why not ask there? And, it’s a lot more personable, I would say.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. It’s a little ridiculous because it turns your social media manager and your content manager, community manager, into your customer service folks too. But, all in all whoever’s posting on your page, whoever’s managing the page, should be well-versed in your frequently asked questions and how to respond.

Alison Smith:
So, how much time would someone need to take on checking that and responding?

Karin Samelson:
It depends on your brand and how active your community is and how many customers you have and how many followers you have and all that good stuff.

So, if you’re a small to medium sized brand, which are the brands that we personally work with, I would say you can get that done in 15 minutes a day across all platforms, just making sure that everybody is responded to.

And again, I would recommend to do that every day at least 15 minutes. If you want to do it as the first thing that you do when you wake up right in the morning, that’s totally fine. But, try and figure out a consistent time each day where you can go in and manage all of those comments.

Alison Smith:
Hm. 15 minutes a day. I think that’s totally doable thinking about the time we already spent on social media.

Karin Samelson:
Exactly.

Alison Smith:
So, cool. Okay. And, should the founder be doing that to be more personable? Who can do that on a team?

Karin Samelson:
It depends how big your team is too. All of this is going to depend. So, I know plenty of founders that are running all of their social platforms.

So yeah, if that is you and you’re running your platforms and you’re the person that answers questions, then that’s going to be the founder doing it. If you have the budget to have a social media coordinator, they’re doing it.

If you have a tiny budget but not big enough for a social media coordinator, then hire a virtual assistant and just make sure that somebody is doing it.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. So, let’s hop into the theme of today, negative feedback.

So, it’s not fun to log into your social profiles and see those comments that are a little harsh. But again, the internet is a wild world. There’s going to be those people out there. So why is it so important, responding to negative comments?

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. You never want people to see that. You never want your other customers to see that and wonder why you haven’t responded. It’s like, “Are they hiding something? Should I be concerned?”

And, negative feedback has no place on certain avenues. So on your advertisement, you are spending money to get your brand out there.

Negative comments that aren’t treated are just not going to be helpful, conducive to you driving sales with those ads. People are reading the comments more and more. How many times do you purchase something from Amazon and not read the reviews? Never. And, the comment section is pretty much a review section.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. And, that’s a great point because with ads you want that social proof. You want all those comments, likes, shares, what have you, on the ads because it builds trust. So truly with ads you’re paying for that.

I think that brings out a lot of trolls and people who just like to make those negative comments. So my MO there, and I want to see if you agree, is just deleting those. Because like you said, you’re spending money on those ads, on those campaigns.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. And, especially if it’s not somebody… If it’s a prospecting ad and it’s not a customer, it’s not somebody who even knows your brand… And, that’s usually who they are on those ads. Delete and ban. They don’t need to be getting served those ads. And, you do not want to waste your dollars serving them those ads.

Alison Smith:
It could drive down your conversion rate significantly.

I would say the only time that you would need to interact with that person is with a retargeting ad or if they happen to see a prospecting ad and it’s an existing customer. And, I’ve seen this before, where they’re simply like, “I emailed customer service and no one responded,” and then they get served an ad.

And, then obviously that can be very frustrating. So, then they comment there. So, that’s the only case I could think of.

Karin Samelson:
That’s so true. We’ll get some of those. And, obviously some things slip through the cracks in your email.

So, I never really thought about that until you just said it, how frustrating that could be, if you have been trying to contact a brand and you get served one of their ads because you visited their website or whatever. That would be so frustrating.

So, it’s to be expected that these things would show up in your comment section.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. What is your procedure to respond? How do you look at these comments and decide how to react?

Karin Samelson:
So every single time that a negative comment, a piece of feedback, shows up on one of our pages, you have to ask yourself one major question.

That question is, “Is this going to serve another person in any way if I respond? Is this going to serve any person in any way if I respond?”

Alison Smith:
So, you’re not thinking about that person.

Karin Samelson:
No.

Alison Smith:
You’re thinking about everyone else. Okay? Cool.

Karin Samelson:
Yes. If somebody comes with negative feedback, yes, of course I want to treat them and I want to provide good customer service.

And, I want to answer their question or solve their problem. But, when it comes to responding, the first thing I ask myself, “Is it going to serve another person in any way?” I can’t say that enough.

Karin Samelson:
So if the answer is no, you’re going to do one of two things. You’re going to take it offline as soon as possible.

You’re going to tell them to DM you, email you at customer service. Or two, the other option is to delete the person, delete the comment, ban them from your page, get them off of your page. Because out of those two options, the first one is going to be, okay.

They’re probably one of your customers, they’re upset about something, and they need a response. But it doesn’t belong on your social platform because your social platform is not where all of your customer service should live.

So one, you can take that offline. But the other one, the deleting, if it’s not going to serve another person, delete it. They’re just a troll. And it’s up to you to decide if you think the person is a troll or not. And, there’s nothing you can do to change that person’s mind, you just delete it and you ban them.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. I love that. You’re just straight to the point. Just ban them. But, I would say… Okay, so trolls would be someone who’s like, “This product’s stupid.” It’s just like, “Cool. Okay.”

Karin Samelson:
A classic one that always happens… It even happens on organic stuff. Is, “Why am I getting this? Why am I being served this?” It’s like, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know. It happens. So, you don’t need to be here. I’m going to get rid of you.”

Alison Smith:
Yeah. And, you’re doing them a favor too. It’s like, “You obviously don’t enjoy this. So we’ll cut ties.” Okay. So, that’s the no. That’s when it doesn’t serve anyone else. What’s the yes?

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. So, if you ask the question, “Is this going to serve another person in any other way?” If you respond, if the answer is yes, it will serve someone, you will answer to the best of your ability.

Just remember that your response will serve as a reference point to a lot of people, to whoever sees that comment, not just the person you’re responding to. So, if you are able to educate and cultivate community with your response, absolutely do it. And, just be really mindful of what you’re saying.

Alison Smith:
Can you give a real world example of this?

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. Yeah. A person comes up and they’re like, “How on earth is this supposed to be good for my baby? How on earth can feeding X, Y, and Z be good for my baby?”

In essence, it’s a negative comment. It’s not positive. They’re questioning your product, they’re questioning the efficacy and the nutrition. It is important to respond here because while they might be a little troll-y, they might not be a customer, people…

They want to see how you respond. Especially if that comment was made hours before you even got to see it. We can’t all be on social media 24 hours a day.

Karin Samelson:
So especially if it’s been living there for a little while, you need to be like, “Okay.” I calm down. Maybe take a few moments to collect yourself.

But, remind yourself why they’re wrong. Write it down. Give bulleted points on your nutrition and how it actually is better for babies or whoever and offer that comment.

It doesn’t matter if they still respond negatively, because if somebody else that’s of more sound mind comes and they’re like, “This is fact based. These aren’t opinions.” It gives the opportunity for that person to be like, “Oh yeah, that person’s wrong. And they’re responding respectfully.”

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that speaks a lot, when you are able to respond and keep your cool. And, I guess what you’re saying here is you’re not responding to change that specific person’s mind. They probably already made up their mind. You’re doing it for goodwill upon your fans or people on the fence, something like that.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah, absolutely. And, of course if you can change that person’s mind… Which happens all the time, more far and few between than not. But, it’s a win-win in that situation.

Alison Smith:
Cool. So, do you keep track of all of these comments and responses? Is there a document that teams need to have? How does that work?

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. So, all CPG owners and brands should have your standard FAQ’s where… You’re frequently asked questions, you answer them.

Obviously, I don’t want you to copy and pasting these answers to respond to people on social because that’s super robotic. Just put a little bit more life and personality behind it. But, have your FAQ’s, have your standard answers. But, then also have those hard ones, especially if somebody is helping you like a VA or your social media coordinator.

Work with them to figure out the best responses for those harder questions, especially those negative ones.

Alison Smith:
So, are you saying it’d be a good idea to post in your Slack channel and get some feedback on how to respond?

Karin Samelson:
Yeah, definitely. If you have a team and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do with this person.” But honestly, if you’re a founder managing your own social and you know your product like the back of your hand and you know your customers and you know that this person can be responded to in a certain way, do it. And, then write it down later.

Write it in your FAQ somewhere so that you can just reference it and not have to come up with a witty repartee on the side.

Alison Smith:
And, just quickly cut the 15 minutes to five maybe. Okay, cool. I want to play a little game.

So we’re going to play to respond or not to respond, that is the question. So, I’m going to volley up some scenarios for Karin and she’s just going to tell us how she would respond.

Karin Samelson:
I like the sound of this game. Let’s do it.

Alison Smith:
Scenario number one, you’re a biltong… Biltong.

You’re a biltong brand, which is a jerky from South Africa if anyone doesn’t know. And, you offer pasture-raised products.

You have an ad running that promotes your brand’s sourcing, your excellent sourcing, and it speaks to the increased nutritional value of your product. And, then here comes Dick Richards. Dick Richards comes along and he comments, “Higher nutrition? Yeah, right. In your dreams.” What do you do? Do you respond or you don’t respond?

Karin Samelson:
A classic Dick Richards comment. So just to say it again, this is a brand that has great sourcing and we like working with [inaudible 00:16:39] brands of course.

So, all of you are doing the best you can with all of your sourcing and all of your ingredients and all that good stuff. Good sourcing and higher nutrient content. And this guy’s coming along saying, “Higher nutrition? Yeah, right. In your dreams.” Okay.

Karin Samelson:
To respond or not to respond, I say absolutely respond. Because whether or not Dick wants to hear you lay down education on how your product is actually better is completely beside the point like we were talking about before.

You’re giving everyone else the opportunity to receive more education through your comment on why your brand is better, why it’s higher nutrition, why the sourcing of premium ingredients leads to higher nutrition, through your well-thought-out and fact-based response.

Karin Samelson:
So, that’s really important too. It’s got to be fact-based. You can’t just be putting out your food babe opinions out there. It has to be truly fact-based. And better yet, source. If you can find some… Not if you.

You should have already done this, especially if your brand’s established and you’re in production and you have sourcing on that information, whether it’s nutrition or whatever it is, source it. Send them that link and shut them up.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Lay down the facts. I love it. And that reminds me, I feel like I have seen for brands that you’ve worked on, that you’ve built out your comments and you do it consistently… Basically, created super fans. I’ve seen the super fans jump on people like Dick Richards before and do your work for you and maybe be a little less friendly.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. Less customer service-y. Such a good point.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Which is always fun.

Karin Samelson:
We will do that sometimes. If it’s a negative comment that comes in… And you have to have an avid, engaged following. If nobody ever comments on your posts then nobody’s probably going to jump to your defense.

But if you have advocates of your brand that are really active in your comments section, let it sit for a second. Let it sit for a while and see what happens. Because, usually people will jump on it in your defense. And ,it’s pretty effective.

Alison Smith:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Fun to watch.

Karin Samelson:
Fun to watch.

Alison Smith:
Okay. Your next scenario. You’re a whiskey brand and you share a lot of male-centric imagery in your ads. So of course, Shirley Rogers is going to come along and she’s going to comment, “That guy is so ugly.” So, what do you do?

Karin Samelson:
Oh, Shirley!

Alison Smith:
Respond or not respond?

Karin Samelson:
So rude, Shirley. Not respond. How can you respond to that? There’s nothing-

Alison Smith:
It’s mean.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. It’s so mean. And that happens all the time, especially if you have humans in it.

And, that’s not okay. Bullying… And, I feel like it’s a lot of older people bullying on Facebook and then both younger and older people bullying on Instagram. I’m like, “Just get out of here.” So, I say don’t respond and delete it completely. There’s no reason that should sit there. And, what do you-

Alison Smith:
There’s no value.

Karin Samelson:
No value. Yeah. Is someone else going to get anything out of your comment? No. So don’t respond.

Alison Smith:
And, is Shirley troll worthy? Is she bannable?

Karin Samelson:
Oh, Shirley’s a troll. Ban her.

Alison Smith:
Ban, bye!

Karin Samelson:
Check to see if she’s following you, but chances are she’s not if it’s an ad.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Okay. And she’s not… Like the ad said, the scenario said it’s male-centric whiskey brand. Shirley’s maybe not in your core demographic. So, that’s something else that you can look at too to help you understand.

Karin Samelson:
Absolutely.

Alison Smith:
Okay. So, your final scenario of respond or not to respond is you’re a prebiotic beverage and you share something on your feed about how the product is good for your gut and helps you poop regularly. So, Tracy what’s-her-name comes on and she comments on your post. And she says, “I had diarrhea for 24 hours straight from this product. I do not recommend.” What do you do?

Karin Samelson:
Oh, Tracy. This is very, very real life.

Alison Smith:
That’s vulnerability right there.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. She doesn’t care who sees this. I respect Tracy. And, honestly usually that deserves to be in customer service.

But, a lot of times the reason why people come to your social platforms to complain is because they want immediate satisfaction from you. And they know by making it public, they’re going to get a response from you very quickly.

Oftentimes, I’d say 99% of the time faster than they would if they did reach out to customer service. So, that’s obviously another reason why it’s coming in hot on social.

Alison Smith:
That’s a good point.

Karin Samelson:
Mine is that doesn’t need to be there because it’s just not the greatest comment to live on your content.

So, what I would do is respond but in private. So, if it was an ad I would recommend deleting the comment and reaching out to them via DM, of course requesting she email customer service to continue the conversation.

Karin Samelson:
Since this scenario was in the feed, organic, we’re not putting any money behind it, I would probably leave it there and just say, “DM us for more information…” Or, “DM us, we need to take care of you. We’re interested in continuing this conversation.” And leave a quick response as to why it could have happened.

Like in this scenario, “You need to give your body some time to adjust because of X, Y, and Z. These are really powerful especially if you’re not regular.” Things like that. I don’t know, just your normal response so that future purchasers can potentially see that response and act accordingly. But, keep that comment super, super short. Respond super short and get them to your customer service.

Get them in private so that they have a reason to go through with the back and forth with you but not talking online like that. Take it offline.

Alison Smith:
Gosh, it seems like a cry for help, honestly. Poor Tracy. But, that is a big thing when you’re in the supplement world or the health world. You got to be really careful with claims and things like that. So, maybe expand on that.

Do you say, “Talk to your doctor?” Do you add those types of… I don’t know what that… Acclaims or what have you?

Karin Samelson:
That is so smart. Yeah. So, functional foods, just like you were talking about supplements, you don’t always have to say it. It depends what topic you’re talking about. It depends what you’re referring to in that moment.

So, in this situation I wouldn’t say, “Go to your doctor,” because we all know… Prebiotics, probiotics, if you have a bunch, that could happen to you. So, I wouldn’t want to scare people in being like, “Everybody who drinks this needs to talk to a doctor.”

Karin Samelson:
But when you’re going to refer things, for instance you have these brands that you really, really like and you’re saying, “It’s flu and cold season coming up. And, these are the supplements I like to take.” That’s probably when she should leave that disclaimer that says, “Discuss with your doctor before trying it.”

Karin Samelson:
But when it comes to your product, as long as you’re abiding by all FDA regulations and all that stuff, then I don’t see a reason to say discuss with your doctor. In private, in your private conversation with them and they’re like, “This isn’t right. I don’t know what happened.

I want to keep trying it, but this is not blah, blah, blah.” In that moment, it’s like, “Okay, well then, you can talk to your doctor about it if you’re worried,” but I would keep that private.

Alison Smith:
Okay, cool. Well, I had fun. That was a fun little game. Let’s wrap it up though. Just to give everyone some top takeaways for responding to negative comments.

Karin Samelson:
Cool. Yeah. So, responding to negative comments on social.

Key takeaway number one, ask yourself, “Is this going to serve another person in any way?”

And, then step two you’re going to respond either in app or offline or you’re not going to respond. You’re going to delete it. And if it’s a troll you ban them, you never see them again. So, those are our key takeaways. Ask yourself, “Is it going to serve anybody if I respond?” If not, get rid of them.

Alison Smith:
I love it. It’s very clear. Because, a lot of times it’s not so clear when you get those comments.

But, I love that question, asking yourselves that. But, if you guys have any additional comments or questions for Karin about community engagement or responding to negative comments in general, please feel free to shoot us a DM on our Instagram. It’s @UMAImarketing.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. And better yet, screenshot your next one that you really don’t know how to deal with and send it to us because these… They bring us some kind of sick joy.

Alison Smith:
Oh, man. We should start a blog about-

Karin Samelson:
A Tumblr?

Alison Smith:
Yeah, a Tumblr.

Karin Samelson:
All right. Well, thanks to you guys for joining us. And hopefully you got a little bit out of this minisode and we’ll see you next time.

Narrator:
UMAI Social Circle is a CPG agency-driven podcast based out of Austin, Texas. We’re excited to share more behind the scene insights, chats with industry leaders, and whatever else we learn along the way. Follow us on Instagram at @UMAImarketing or check out our website, UMAImarketing.com. Catch you back here soon.

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