Facebook is, first and foremost, a public space.
As marketers, we pay for the privilege of adding our voices to the Facebook experience, but there’s no guarantee that audiences have to like what we say. The ability to share thoughts and opinions is what makes Facebook so appealing. It’s also why traditional advertising mediums like television and radio are becoming less relevant.
As a marketer, bringing a brand to a public space like Facebook is a risk/reward exercise. Your content (including your paid campaigns) may win over an audience, or it might garner negative attention. Thankfully, negative comments can be opportunities in disguise. They offer brands the chance to earn the kind of social proof that can elevate themselves above the competition. Here’s how, through careful listening and solution-oriented thinking, marketers can turn their Facebook haters into brand evangelists.
Make Them Feel Heard
The most valuable thing a marketer can do when dealing with negative Facebook comments is to make sure the commenter knows that their message has been received and understood. This goes beyond simply acknowledging that you’ve read the comment and requires that marketers take the extra step of demonstrating an understanding not only of what the issue is, but how it’s impacted the commenter’s experience. Active listening is a valuable communication technique that involves (among other things) taking time to paraphrase what the speaker has said. In doing so, the listener clearly demonstrates that the speaker’s message has been received, digested and considered. For example:
This simple act addresses 90% of the commenter’s emotional needs, which more often than not are simply to be heard. It also lays the foundation for a productive public exchange that can characterize your brand as one that’s effective and considerate towards its customers. The next step is actually addressing the problem.
Make sure you know your app well enough to recognize when an issue is caused by user error. If, after investigating, you discover that the complaint is due to genuine product failure, you’ll obviously want to alert your team and follow proper escalation protocols. Assuming your product is solid, it’s far more likely that any negative comments you receive will be due to user error. Accept responsibility for the issue as a user experience shortcoming and find the fastest way to solve the issue.
For the ideal outcome, use visual communication tools like Quicktime to capture images or video from your mobile device that clearly illustrate how the commenter can navigate past the problem in as few steps as possible. Using visual communication tools rather than explaining things in words will vastly increase your chances of a positive outcome. It also shows that you’re a tech-savvy brand that knows how to communicate clearly with its customers. Sometimes, however, issues get complicated and the best thing to do is connect privately.
Take It Offline
Now and then an issue will arise that can’t be solved with a single response. In those cases, it’s better to connect with the commenter directly via Facebook message. Taking the conversation out of the public eye is ideal for both the commenter and the marketer, as it allows for an open exchange of information without having to worry about others getting involved. Keep in mind, of course, that anything you say in a private exchange can just as easily be screencapped and shared with the public, so be sure to keep things positive and stay solutions-oriented. If it ends up taking longer than a few minutes to solve, thank them for their patience and reassure them that you’re committed to solving the problem. Once the issue is resolved, it’s time to take the conversation public again.
Ask For Closure
If you’ve been able to solve the problem, many users will voice their appreciation publicly on their own. If not, or if they’ve elected to say thanks in private, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to reply to their original comment explaining that you were able to solve the issue together. Especially when conversations get taken offline, adding a satisfying conclusion to the exchange can earn you the kind of social proof that garners positive brand equity and can even improve ad performance. Here’s an example of how to ask for positive closure:
Thanks for your patience while we worked to resolve this. If you get the chance, I’d really appreciate if you could comment on your original post saying that we were able to resolve the issue. We want to make sure people know we’re here to help.
Unfortunately, there are some comments that simply can’t be turned into brand wins. If trolls try to hijack your ad comments with illegitimate concerns or spammy content, it’s best to hide or delete them. As long as it’s clearly a nonsense post, no reasonable audience should accuse you of censorship. In all other cases, keep this process in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building a respected online presence for your brand’s mobile product portfolio.