Last year, Venture Beat reported that we complain 879 million times a year on social media and Facebook is our top target. It may be safe to assume that you have been witness to negative comments on social media in the past. Having a presence in this space isn’t always a cake walk. Some customers find comfort in hiding behind a keyboard and computer screen and feel that they have a right to bash a brand Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network. Unfortunately, this isn’t always something that you can avoid. Fortunately, it gives you the opportunity to publicly make things right in a situation gone wrong or clarify a misunderstanding in record speed. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is identity whether the negative comment is a justified complaint. Are they upset about your product or are they upset over the service that they received? Are they trying to offer constructive criticism or are they just flat out being rude? If you can’t determine their motive from the comment itself, take a look at their timeline to get a feel for what kind of person they might be.

It’s far too common that negative comments get completely ignored by brands (32.8% of the time according to a study done by VB). It seems easier to just let them get buried underneath of new comments and posts, but more often than not, the commenter will come back again with an even more aggravated message to share. It’s better to address the issue efficiently and with a positive attitude than to let it continue brewing and leave room for a potential explosion. 

Another thing to note is that many of your younger consumers are more than likely GenX’ers. The days of emailing for customer service are gone in their eyes and if they tweet an issue to bring it to your attention, you should either send them a direct message or at the very least let them know where they should reach out for customer service. If the problem can be solved in under 140 characters you can send them a public message (tweet, comment, etc), but if you feel the customer may be heated, it’s probably best to reach out with a private message. 

A few days following the resolution of the problem, it’s always a good idea to check in with them publicly. This shows that you value them as a loyal and long term customer and also shows the rest of the public that you haven’t left them hanging. 

In general, airlines are expected to have above average customer service. Jet Blue is one that impresses me even more than the rest with a less than 10 minute response time to customers reaching out to their brand via Twitter. This is especially impressive considering that on average they receive more than 2,500 @mentions per day. 

In some cases, humor can be the resolution for a frustrated customer. Recently, Nike (who has been known for their clever responses on social media) tweeted a witty response to a customer requesting a pair of sold out "Moon Landing" Air Max Lunar 90s for an upcoming date. It began innocently enough with a simple request and after not receiving a response within a day, the customer followed up a little more aggressively. Nike’s response warrants a chuckle: 

In the end, the most important thing to take note of is that your brand should never let a comment that begs for attention left behind. Whether your response is of concern, humor, or a redirection, each negative outreach is fueled by a negative experience and when shared on social media, that negativity permeates your community. By taking a proactive and positive approach, you'll not only snuff the issue quickly, but you will also show you're entire community that you listen and care about them as individuals.