What To Do When: Social Media Backfires

Industry & Tips & Tricks - November 7th, 2014

Image care of: @erinwasson


You’ve probably made a formal complaint at least once in your life. These days, that often manifests itself in leaving a heated comment (or two) on the company’s social page. And like with anything online, if that post goes viral, it has the potential to be seen and shared by thousands, if not more.

So, what if you’re the business on the other end looking to protect your reputation?

It’s important to think from the perspective of your customer, or the potential customer who may see that comment. At the end of the day, you want them to feel satisfied enough with your response to stop spreading the negative message – especially if they have a considerable following.

For example, when model Erin Wasson (@erinwasson) shared this image with her 110K+ followers on Instagram after a bad experience at The Harlot Salon (@theharlotsalon), it attracted more than 1,200 likes and a flurry of comments.

Ouch. What would you do if you were the social manager behind The Harlot Salon? Surprisingly, it appears they did nothing at all.

The Harlot Salon don’t appear to have acknowledged Wasson’s post or the comments they have been tagged in by her followers. In fact, after a visit to @theharlotsalon’s profile, it appears that if there were any negative comments posted to them after Wasson’s post, they have since been deleted.

At The Word Collective, we strongly suggest that when faced with a complaint the best thing to do is acknowledge what has been said. Online, everything has the potential to escalate, and you do NOT want negativity surrounding your brand to go viral.

A combination of the below strategies is a good start:

  • Respond: Whether it be to apologise or provide a defence, your response should offer a solution to their problem, which may include …
  • Redirecting them: Ask them to contact your customer service department or send you a private message, which moves further negative comments away from the public feed.
  • Hide their comment: If the post is on Facebook, hiding it stops anyone other than their friends from seeing it while you respond.

Acknowledging complaints is an extremely important part of customer service and consumer-brand relationship building, and that’s really what social media is. It’s a way for people and brands to connect, so it’s important that your social presence still reflects your business and invites interaction and sales, instead of driving them away.

Remember, you’re a customer too. How would you like to be treated?

How do you think The Harlot Salon should have responded?