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Haters to Lovers: Social Media Community Management 101

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Jessica Chatham

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“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

If this were true, it would make for a pretty easy and, to be honest, boring social media community management job. Luckily, comments on social can often center around one thing: complaints.

Although the idea of people yelling at you through a computer screen might sound terrifying, it’s actually a great way to gauge how your customers feel about your brand.

Take a deep breath and follow the guidelines below to keep that good sense of community on your channels.

Social Media Community Management 101:


Make sure you always monitor (or listen) to your social media channels. This will help you see what is being said about your brand in a timely fashion. Hootsuite and Sprout Social  are useful social listening tools that allow you to monitor not only your page, but also lists of influencers, mentions and relevant hashtags.

Decide on the best response.

You almost always need to respond to a customer on social. But there are exceptions. Some people are only there to stir the pot. Responding to these types of comments is not only be a waste of time, it could also open up a can of worms and create unnecessary turmoil for the brand.

According to Guy Kawasaki, the best way to spot a troll is to be on the lookout for the following characteristics:

  • Bad grammar
  • Entitlement
  • Lack of first-hand knowledge
  • Lousy profiles
  • Intolerance
  • Pre-Copernicus
  • Perfect information
  • Cowardly
  • Legal scholars
  • Arithmetically challenged
  • Holier-than-thou
  • American

For customers that have genuine inquiries, I suggest using a decision tree to help you respond. Unhappy customer? Make sure their facts are correct and take action to correct the issue. Are they a dedicated complainer? Let the post stand and watch it closely.

Respond quickly.

As a rule of thumb, try to respond to comments within two hours. If you don’t have the answer in that time frame, let them know that you are checking on it and will get back to them soon. Try to sound like a real person and not a robot. Find the balance between professionalism and friendliness. Pretend like you’re talking to your best friend’s mom. Although, you most likely won’t be invited over for a home-cooked meal.

Do everything you can to make them feel better.

There was a time when a customer service line may have been your primary communication channel, but today, social media community management is your first line of defense. Social is the primary way consumers communicate with your company. That’s why your social media channels need to be 100 percent responsive and helpful in resolving problems.

Broken product? Offer to send a replacement (if it’s company policy). Problems with a service? Keep it light-hearted and try to understand where they are coming from.

Don’t get into a fight and never take an angry tone. Fighting with a customer on social will only end badly (see Nestlé circa 2010). By letting customers know they are being heard and understood, you are converting them from dissatisfied to a happy customer.

People are much more likely to come back to buy your product, comment nice things on your posts or even give a testimonial down the road. According to research from SumAll reported by KissMetrics, “businesses with 40% repeat customers generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only a 10% repeat customers.”

Remember, attentive listening + quick responses – angry tones = brand loyalty and success.

Jessica Chatham

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