Damage Control for Social Media

Damage Control for Social Media

I have been asked many times on how to damage control when the unexpected happens on the social media assets.

Complaints, negative comments, bad reviews and angry customers is one of the the major concern of organizations and brands because one wrong move can make this whole episode go very viral which will generate bad publicity.  However having social media assets also means that customers (or even rivals) are free to voice out freely and you practically cannot stop anyone from saying whatever they want to.

So how do you handle a customer whom is looking for an avenue to voice out their complaint?  Would you delete their remarks?  Would you just keep quiet and hope that it will go away? Or would you address is up front and face the music?  Of course it would be the latter, but how you do it will either make yourself look like an organization who cares or otherwise.

From my experience managing a couple of social media assets for some brands, I’ve lined up 3 no-no’s when facing complaints, negative comments, bad reviews and angry customers as part of my damage control strategy.

Damage Control “No-No”


If it is a genuine feedback from a genuine customer, face the fact and deal with it.  Deleting remarks on Facebook is as good as ignoring the feedback and no one likes to be ignored.  Acknowledge the issue and politely ask for a possible way to address the issue offline, like getting his email or phone number.  And once the issue is solved, update the status on the remark so that others whom are watching (and I can tell you many of your potential customers are!) will know that you are an organization who puts a lot of focus on customer service.


Ignoring is the worst.  It either shows that you don’t care or that you don’t even have sufficient resource to show that you care.  In all social media platforms, most expect an instant answer but can still accept a 2 to 12 hour delay in answers due to time differences (if you are an international organization) or working hours.  And don’t pretend you did not read the message, your customers are not fools.

Challenge Openly

I’ve seen this lots – We did not do this, We did not say that, Its your fault… and the list goes on.  Listen to the customer first, don’t jump into conclusions because sometimes what’s written can differ from what they meant.  Try to help instead of trying to be defensive about the situation.  Take if offline, address it on a one-on-one.

The above three no-no can help to put the fire off at the root before it goes spreading like wild fire.   Most of the time, anger and dissatisfaction can lead to an urge to tell the whole world about it and more so if the person is a socially influential person…you are in for it big time.  The social media manager has to be very tactful to know what to say and when to say it and what to do when things goes wrong.  And that person must definitely not take the easy way out by ignoring or deleting such comments.

Here are 3 tips on damage control after damage is done…

Customer Service Assistance

If the problem is widespread (a lot of customers with the same complaint), offer a toll-free number that customers can instantly call.  Post the phone number clearly everywhere so that customers can see it – so you have a direct line for people to voice their concern rather than post it openly for everyone to see.  Its ideal to be able to deal with issues directly, and any organization should appreciate that the concerns gets channeled directly to them and not to 3rd party ears.  Many times, competitors pick up these complaints and use it to their advantage – so you definitely don’t want that to happen.

Friendly and Helpful

Be as friendly as possible.  Try to help and engage.  Don’t jump into conclusions.  Understand the problem first, then work out a plan on how to help the customer.  Once the issue is solved, post a comment to indicate that the issue has been resolved.

Real Expert Assistance

Be prepared with direct lines with expert customer service officers to handle complaints.  You don’t want to give out a direct line to a person whom are not able to handle these issues.  It can make matters worse.  Customers want a solution, not a punch bag.  Many times, customers have to go through automated messages and made to enter codes etc and then just give up because its making customers jump through hurdles after hurdles just to get their issue addressed.

An organization/brand/campaign on social media network can easily attract a lot of negative & damaging remarks.  As a marketer handling an organization’s social media network, its not just about posting messages to make it look ‘happening’.  It simply doesn’t work that way.  Even if you have thousands of fans going ga-ga about some events, one small mention about a pain that everyone is going through can spark a lot of fire.  And worse, if it turns into a widespread forest fire.  Thus, damage control planning for social media is the first thing to think about when implementing a social media plan.

Damage control is about listening to your customer and not just you wanted to be listened to.

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