Responding To Realtime Marketing Comments

Responding To Realtime Marketing Comments
By Matthew Yeoman

Odds are that in today’s exaggerated social media world, your online marketing efforts have met with someone who has an ax to grind. These disgruntled Internet users can be dealt with in a number of ways that can actually benefit both your brand, and your upset social follower. Choosing how to respond to them is key, and I’ll talk about your options in this article.

What To Do When Facing Negative Comments On Social Media

Publicly Acknowledge Them, Then Invite To Email Or Phone

Often times, discussing problems on social media is a hassle. Tone can be missed and blown out of proportion. Misunderstandings can happen as you talk. And airing your private matters in a public sphere can lead to other people making it worse as they chime in.

Let’s take a look at a company that has taken some lumps online lately: Sony. They have been battered from all sides, but they still manage their Twitter complaints in the same manner as I’m describing above:

  • -Send a tweet voicing your concern for the problem
  • -If that’s not enough, invite them to email or phone you

Here’s how a typical tweet complaint when down on their site:


That’s the perfect way to deal with the person in this example. Anyone who stumbles across it can see that they tried to help. If they had skipped right ahead to sending a direct message, that would have been a mistake: other users can’t see a direct message. This could cause them to think your brand doesn’t care, or to comment and make the situation worse.

Provide A Little Education

Oftentimes consumers aren’t mad at you; they’re frustrated and mad at themselves. This can be because they don’t know how something works. This happens frequently during new product launches when people don’t know how something works, and there are few web resources available.

For brands with complex products, like anyone who deals with computers in any way, providing additional information can be the easiest route to take. Dataroam certainly has a complex series of issues to deal with when helping the customer below. They could waste their time, and his, talking about it on Twitter. Instead they did the smart thing:


Good luck trying to explain PDP authorization issues in 140 characters or less. It’s often best to send people to the FAQ page, that’s why it was made.

Work With Webmasters And See What You Can Do To Help

There are a few review websites we monitor at Devumi. Making sure we keep the webmaster or reviewer happy by helping them with issues is a goal of ours. You don’t have to sit pensively and just take a bad review from a webmaster on the chin. The content wasn’t written by the 1s and 0s of binary code at random, it was written by a person you can talk to.

Many of these review websites will leave an area open at the bottom to comment. My advice to you is this:

  • Don’t comment there!

All you’re doing is opening yourself up to further ridicule. The goal of all online conversations should be to get to the root of the issue. Directly contacting the webmaster via email will get you much more direct access to the person who has a problem.

Look through their contact page for the right person to contact, or ask them for it over Twitter/Facebook. When responding to social media posts you’re talking directly to the person involved. When dealing with review websites, deal directly with the person who authored it by sending them a direct message.

Know When To Just Ignore A Troll

There are going to be many posts on your social media accounts that are there just to get a rise out of you. Amy’s Baking Company is, perhaps, the best example of this, in the entire history of the world. Let’s take a look at two online reviews of their restaurant to give examples.

The first one is a person on Yelp who may have a valid complaint, and should be spoken to:


It sounds like they actually went there and had a bad meal. If Sami, the owner of Amy’s Baking Company, was any good at talking to people online I’d suggest he attend to that review.

This review on UrbanSpoon, however, is pure trolling:


Really? You would literally rather eat your own head? Responding to these types of comments is what got Amy’s Baking Company into trouble in the first place. You, as a brand manager, have to know when to walk away from a comment and let it be.

If you’re really skilled, and have a good brand name built up, you can occasionally try to have fun with these types of comments. Under normal circumstances, it’s best to stay out of the way when people ask about committing bodily harm to others. The @USairways Twitter account is known for being fun and joining in on conversations that other brands wouldn’t. Here’s an example:


Coming out with a heavy handed ‘if you hit another customer on a flight you’ll be arrested once you land’ comment would have been worse than saying nothing at all. US Airways has the joking nature and rolled with it.

Remember This Equation: Command+Shift+3 = Don’t Delete Comments

When I push those keys at the same time on my Mac, I can take a screenshot of anything on my screen at that time. That means that I can give your company a poor review, take a screenshot, and shove it in your face if you delete my negative review.

Do you know what happens when you delete someone’s comment on social media and they find out?

Something like this:


To explain that ridiculous meme, let’s look at the nightmare that was once Applebee’s. You can read a longer version here, but I’ll give you the quick tour:

  1. 1) They had a waiter make a comment on a customers check about them not leaving a tip.
  2. 2) This receipt was photographed and uploaded to Reddit by another waiter.
  3. 3) The waiter was fired by Applebee’s for violating customer privacy.
  4. 4) Another user found that Applebee’s had uploaded a receipt with a positive review with the customer name in full.
  5. 5) Everyone cried hypocrisy.

Things were bad at this point, but it got worse when Applebee’s started deleting comments on their Facebook page. It could have blown over, but they kept poking the Internet mob and the mob kept getting angrier. Censoring people online is a tough thing to do. There are screenshots, there are people claiming you’ve deleted things, and there will always be ever increasing anger in both situations.

The only time I’d ever recommend doing it is when people spread outright lies that are way out of line. Even then I’d be cautious and talk to the person first. The other time is swearing, discrimination, and threats of violence, especially on family oriented pages.

Use Examples Of Your Positive Impact

Social media is the king of drive-by belligerence. A comment on your restaurant’s Facebook page that goes “I hear you guys don’t wash your hands at all and you sneeze all the time” could happen in some form. You’re welcome to take the ‘address and take offline’ approach from above. You can also add a little extra. This is your chance to get your food safety measures out there. Tell people about your requirements for staff. Let them know that you care, and that you’re trying to combat issues similar to this one.

Your goal isn’t to brush their concern aside. You need to deal with it. Remember at the end of all this, you have a chance to show people that you’re already trying to correct these issues before they happen.

Matthew Yeoman is the writer over on the Social Media Marketing Blog. You can find him there every Friday writing about ways to increase your Twitter followers, maximize your YouTube, and get your SoundCloud pumping, along with general social media news, views, and commentary.