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How to use negative comments on social media to drive sales

If you’re wondering how to deal with negative comments on social media, here’s how to use them to drive sales. Get these four ways to leverage negative comments.

You’ve been working hard on your online business idea and are about to publish a new post on your social media channel.

As you scroll through your business page, you notice all the engagement and start to read the latest comments. 

Then, you notice one that stops you in your tracks. 

Yikes -- a negative comment. 

Not only is it a negative comment, but it’s a public one that’s in plain sight for everyone to see. 

Before you panic, there’s a way to turn this around.

In fact, you can leverage your negative comments on social media to drive sales. Yep, that’s right -- today, we’ve got four ways for you to increase your sales by using negative comments on your social channels.

But, before we dig into how to do that, let’s first explain why negative social media comments are a positive thing for your business.

Why negative comments on social aren’t bad for your business

Negative comments aren’t bad for your business because they increase your brand’s authenticity and credibility. 

Take reviews, for example. It’s not realistic to expect every review to be a five-star review.

In fact, 95% of people expect negative reviews. If your site doesn’t have them, then they suspect you’ve published fake reviews.

Sites that do have negative reviews can expect an 85% boost in conversions

In the same vein, negative comments on your social platforms can work in your favor -- they can boost your credibility online. 

Plus, these days, consumers prefer using social media as a channel for voicing their complaints. Only second to in-person complaints, 47% of consumers use social media for consumer complaints. 

Which means it’s becoming the norm to see negative comments on social platforms. It’s simply a preferred complaint channel. 

They can cost you less to resolve, too. It costs 6x more to resolve a customer’s issue through a call center than through social media platforms.

Also, in the same way that you can learn valuable lessons from a failed product launch, you can glean powerful insights from your customer complaints to improve your product offerings. And as you improve your products, you’ll up your chance of getting better reviews, too.

The main takeaway is negative comments on social media can lift your brand’s authenticity, save you money resolving customer issues, and teach you valuable lessons. As long as you respond the right way, you can leverage them to increase your sales. 

To help you respond effectively, we’ve got four tips for you today, starting with getting back to your negative commenters in a timely manner.

4 ways to deal with negative comments on social media

#1. Respond as soon as possible

The most efficient way to manage negative comments on social media is to respond as quickly as you can. 

The glaring reason is people expect you to.

A whopping 48% of consumers anticipate receiving a response to a social media complaint within 24 hours.

What’s more, according to a study by Convince and Convert, 42% of customers expect a response on social media within an hour, and 32% expect one within 30 minutes. 

And if you think 30 minutes is a fast response, try five minutes. 

Which is the ideal time span to turn your complainer into a future customer. A Harvard Business Review study found that people who received responses to negative tweets within five minutes were willing to pay nearly $20 more in the future.

You can follow in the footsteps of Nordstrom, a brand known for its excellent customer service, who responded to a negative customer inquiry within the hour -- and perhaps sooner -- on their Facebook page.

It makes sense that customers expect fast responses because the expectation is the same leading up to the sale, where the rule of thumb is 78% of customers purchase from the first responder. This means the quickest one to respond to a prospective client wins the sale. 

The same level of attention applies to your dissatisfied commenters, where you have a better chance of winning them over with a timely response. 

Sadly, brands don’t do this very well -- or at all. A shocking 70% of companies ignore complaints altogether on Twitter.

This gives you a great opportunity to outperform your competitors by responding quickly, which also helps to reduce your customer churn. In fact, you can prevent 67% of your customer churn if you resolve your customer issue at the first engagement.

By preventing customer churn, you can keep your clients on for longer and even turn them into lifetime customers with repeat purchases.

To stay on top of your responses with rapid speed, social media management tools can help with that. Just choose a tool with a “Social Inbox” feature, which sends you alerts so you can respond to your social comments in real-time. 

OK. Now that you know it’s essential to respond A.S.A.P., our next tip lays out what to say.

#2: Show off your excellent customer support

Another effective way to leverage negative comments on social media is to demonstrate your high level of customer service in your responses. 

You can start by apologizing to your complainer, which shows your audience that you are willing to take ownership of your customer’s issue and empathize with them.

An apology goes a long way, too. In fact, 45% of unhappy customers are willing to forgive a company after an apology as opposed to only 23% who prefer compensation.

Another tip is to thank your complainer for their time in providing feedback, even if it is negative. 

Why? Customers value their time -- a lot. 

73% of customers claim valuing their time is the single most important thing a brand can do to provide good online customer service.

Regardless of whether you apologize or thank your complainer for their time, be sure to highlight your customer service level.

The reason is the disgruntled person who published the negative comment -- plus the people who are reading your responses on your social channels -- will catch a glimpse of your customer experience. And if it’s a good one, that makes for a great selling point. 

In fact, a staggering 89% of businesses compete with each other through the level of customer experience they deliver, so be sure to show off how excellent yours is. 

For example, check out how Amazon sorts out customer Simon’s issue of being sent the wrong product in a series of Twitter responses.

By collecting details about Simon’s order issue and offering a specific link to resolve his problem, Amazon demonstrates their dedication to providing a positive customer experience to not just their initially unhappy customer but to everyone who reads the Twitter thread.

This, in turn, is something that can lead to more sales.

So, to sell more of your profitable digital products, respond to negative comments by first apologizing and thanking your commenter for their time, then demonstrate your excellent customer service level. 

(On the topic of excellent customer service, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive website platform that comes with a great support team, access this 2-week free trial).

Our next tip is also a great way to demonstrate your dedication to serving your audience -- personalization. 

#3. Personalize your response

Another powerful way to turn negative comments on social channels into happy customers is to personalize your responses. 

It helps to be honest and authentic in your response, too, which you can do by avoiding canned responses. 

Otherwise, you risk annoying your audience and losing sales -- a double whammy. 

A significant 63% of people are highly annoyed by brands that send generic messages, and 63% of consumers will stop purchasing from you if you provide poorly executed personalization.

Personalizing your response can be as simple as addressing your commenter by their first name and signing off with a representative’s first name, just like in this response to a negative comment on Southwest Airlines’ Facebook page

Even though the issue wasn’t resolved, you can see that Terri’s sentiment was already turned around in her response, where she appreciates the acknowledgment from Southwest’s representative, Emilia.

You can take it a step further and personalize your response to negative comments by empathizing with your commenter and make your response relevant to their individual issue.

Take, for example, this Facebook post by Kelli, a Nordstrom shopper, who’s having difficulty with pricing while checking out. 

Rather than providing a generic response, Nordstrom’s representative, Charles, starts off with an apology and troubleshoots Kelli’s specific issue directly on the platform and tailors his response to her exact technical user experience issue.

Another reason why you should use personalization like this is it boosts your audience’s feelings toward your brand. In fact, 87% of consumers claim personally relevant content positively influences how they feel about a brand.

And when you have an audience that feels positively toward your brand, you can more easily turn those feelings into sales transactions.

OK, that covers how to quickly turn frowns upside down. But what if the issue can’t be as easily resolved? 

We’ve got you covered there, too, with our next tip of resolving complex issues behind closed doors.

#4. Start a private conversation (without deleting the negative comment)

Our final tip today for responding to negative comments on social media is to first respond publicly and then ask the commenter to bring the conversation to a more private venue if the issue is complex. 

That way, if anything out of the ordinary escalates to a level that needs more critical attention, you can do it privately. 

Plus, it’s a way to protect your customer’s information, just like in J.Crew’s response to a negative comment on Twitter, where the brand’s representative simply requests the user’s troubleshooting details in a direct message.  

Also, by not deleting the negative comment, the prospective customer feels heard and valued. If you delete someone’s comment, you risk fanning their frustration into a bigger issue and potentially receiving even more negative comments on your public channels. 

So, it’s best not to delete negative comments that aren’t outright spam, inappropriate, or slanderous. Instead, request to take it to a more private channel.

Another example is Zappos Facebook response to customer Mariann’s negative comment, where Zappos requested twice in the conversation thread to bring the message offline to a private channel. 

While the issue wasn’t publicly resolved, by keeping the comments published -- and not deleting them -- Zappos shows how attentive they are to their customer’s needs and they solidify their authenticity. 

That’s something hard to come by these days. At least from consumers’ perspective. A mighty 57% of consumers believe that less than half of brands create authentic content.

So, it’s worth keeping your negative comments and responses published for increasing your brand’s authenticity.

The reason why it’s a worthwhile effort is authenticity leads to more fans of your brand. In fact, 86% of consumers claim authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support.

And when you have people who support your brand, that translates to more sales.

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Transform your negative comments on social into more sales

Sure, receiving a negative comment on your public social channel doesn’t feel so great. 

But, if you deal with your negative comments in the right way, it’s another way to use social media to sell more digital products -- which does feel great.

Let’s sum it up for you:

  • Negative comments on your social platforms aren’t bad for your business. In fact, they increase your brand’s authenticity and cost you less to resolve when compared to traditional communication channels.

  • To leverage negative comments on social media, respond as soon as possible. The quicker the better for turning your customer sentiments around and reducing customer churn.

  • Use your response as a way to demonstrate your excellent customer service level, a vital factor in beating out your competitors. 

  • By personalizing your responses to negative comments on social channels, you can turn your disgruntled contact into a happy one and improve their sentiment toward your brand.

  • To manage complex issues that can’t resolve quickly, ask to bring the conversation offline or to another channel without deleting the negative comment. Keeping your negative comments published increases your brand’s authenticity.

With these four straightforward tactics in hand, it’s time to take your negative comments on social media head-on. Happy resolving.

About the author

Cyn Meyer is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive. Cyn also enjoys playing music, helping retirees live active, healthy, engaged lifestyles, and hopping into the ocean.