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How to Deal with Negative Twitter Comments

Twitter can be a great tool for getting the word out. But when that word is unkind or unfair – and it’s about you – what do you do? It’s best to have a plan for negative comments on social media.

I have personal experience with this. Hard to believe? Perhaps, but with 11 years of providing design services to hundreds of Oklahoma City clients – we’ve had a few hiccups. Ball drops. Missteps.

Twitter Sucks CartoonLast week, I was scanning the ‘mentions’ column in my Hootsuite account and there was a tweet from someone who had a less-than-stellar experience with one of our people. The tweet was suggesting that one of our employees should have a better personality. And that a client shouldn’t have to feel like a burden. The tweet was prefaced with our twitter account which let me know we were supposed to see this comment.

Pause. Relax. Figure out my next step. Gotta love social media.

Since the upset party was compelled to tweet their dissatisfaction, I figured it would be appropriate to respond back also with a tweet. I reply back that I just saw their tweet and I’ll call them because I’d like to learn more about this. My tweet back was measured, responsive and in no way escalated the situation. Which would have be bad.

And so I call. No answer and I leave a polite message requesting the client call me back because I’m obviously concerned that they are upset. And I’d like to do what I can to hopefully fix the situation.

Within minutes, I get a call back. We discuss the situation and I learn more about what the client thought was negative about the experience. I apologize and thank them for bringing the issue to my attention. I also take the opportunity to explain while tweeting is obviously a communication option and a sure way to get my company’s attention – I feel strongly that the tweet unfairly characterized my company, the individual involved and other members of my staff. I suggest that they contact me directly next time. They agreed. And the tweet was taken down soon after – which was nice.

Now social media experts may tell me that I handled this wrong, that’s fine. I’ve been working with Back40 design clients for 11 years – and tweeting a complaint is different than simply telling someone. If Back40 were a huge corporation and this person couldn’t get their issue properly addressed – I can see tweeting out of frustration. But I’m easy to find and accessible. I even have my own twitter account (@daveatBACK40). No need to use a sledgehammer when a tap on the shoulder would have worked just as well.

What was positive about this event?

  • It started a conversation with a client
  • The conversation prompted me to re-emphasize with Back40 staff how we need to be extremely clear with expectations of our services, especially the one that precipitated the issue.
  • It created an opportunity to remind the team here that we all represent Back40 – and how we present ourselves reflect on us.
  • Lastly, it reinforced that pausing before you reply is always a good policy. Especially with Twitter, Facebook or any medium that may leave a permanent mark.
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