How to Use Social Media to Respond Well to Criticism
No person or company likes to be criticized. This holds true online and on social media as well. It’s often hard to know how to respond to criticism in person, and it can be equally as difficult online. So how can you respond to criticism in a way that leaves your company looking better than when it started? Reacting proactively rather than defensively is a key factor.
Responding Proactively vs. Defensively
Think of any situation in which you have seen people start an argument in the comments section of social media. Maybe it was somebody’s personal post, or maybe it was a post about a strongly debated topic. Somebody likely responded to a previous comment saying that they disagree, or even insulting the person who left the comment. In this situation, our natural instinct might be to feel attacked, and we often react by trying to defend ourselves. This is a natural reaction- after all, nobody likes to be criticized. But unfortunately, this is also one of the quickest ways to escalate the situation. This situation is often magnified by social media, because we might forget that we are talking to an actual person and say something we would otherwise regret, or we might forget that once something is posted, we lose control over who can see it and risk becoming viral for the wrong reasons.
This is true for brands’ social media accounts too, and can often have much worse impacts than just temporarily going viral. When you respond defensively to criticism of your company, you risk losing respect and credibility, which ultimately translates to lost profits and opportunities. People generally expect businesses to maintain a professional appearance online, so responding professionally and showing that you care about solving your customers’ problems is key. When you respond defensively, you isolate your customers. When you respond proactively, you embrace them. So next time you find a negative comment, take a moment to determine how you can prevent that problem from happening again, and how you can communicate that apology to the customer. When done correctly and kindly, online customer service can be extremely helpful for your company. Many consumers might even have a better opinion of your brand after you solve a problem than they did before. The moral of the story is: proactive responses are almost always better than defensive reactions.