Aug 242013

Has your company shied away from joining Twitter because you are afraid of having to deal with negative comments? The problem with this is that your customers are already using online platforms to speak about your business, including Twitter. Not paying attention can hurt your business when the opportunity is there to set the record straight.


Twitter can be your new customer support line

The great thing about using Twitter as a new form of customer support is that it is a public forum. Other people can ‘see’ you take on complaints from those who have negative things to say. This isn’t the case with traditional phone line customer complaint lines as everything happens between the customer and the support agent. Making part of your customers service experience visible to the public creates a strong image that encourages trust.

What happens when you have experienced negative comments on Twitter

Businesses that have experienced negative comments on their page often find themselves with fewer followers as people hit the ‘unfollow’ button. This can be a major PR problem as decreasing numbers can lead to your follower numbers decreasing even more, people tend to jump off what they see to be a sinking ship!

There are several resources that you can reach out to when your numbers start to drop. There are top online PR firms that can help steer your followers back in the right direction. There are services such as a site where you can buy Twitter followers to push your numbers back up. Or you can be proactive and follow some of the top Twitter PR minds. If you build up a relevant relationship with them they may even have a tip for you! These resources are out there to help you recover, use them.

How to avoid negative PR problems on Twitter

There are 7 steps that you can follow to keep this from happening altogether. Here’s a quick look at each one, be sure to follow them every time you have a negative comment on your Twitter page:

1. Do not take it personally – Stay professional, find the point of view of your customer, and be empathetic. 98/100 times it is simply a misunderstanding that can be resolved, 1/100 times it is a mistake that can be solved too! That last 1%? See point 7 below.

2. Respond ASAP – Twitter is a fast moving social media platform. Your customers will only have more negative feelings if you wait.

3. Ditch the script and speak truly – Your Twitter manager needs the freedom to speak in his or her own voice. Honest conversations that are directed at the specific problem always work best, scripts are for the movies!

4. Never use blanket statements – A ‘blanket’ statement’ is something like ‘sorry to hear about your problems, it won’t happen again,’ with no follow up. Make actionable statements like ‘I am sorry to hear that Product X did not perform to your standards. Our team will be in contact with you to discuss a resolution’ that speak to the specific issue.

5. Move off Twitter – You want to publicly address the issue and then find a private way to discuss the matter, like in the example above. Do not skip right to a direct message or email, make sure the tweet in question is addressed publicly before moving on.

6. Be responsible for your faults – When an error has been made there is no point in lying or covering it up. The internet records everything, and you could be one screenshot away from being caught in a lie with even more problems coming your way.

7. Fight until you can’t win – This harkens back to the age old saying that you can’t please everybody. If you have a customers whose complaints far exceed reasonable expectations it may be time to cut them out and cut your losses and lost time.

Ignoring your Twitter audience is the first mistake you’ll make

The first Twitter marketing mistake you can make is ignoring your audience, not handling your negative comments properly would be the next biggest mistake. Don’t be intimidated, check out this article on how KitchenAid turned a potentially negative situation into a positive. Your Twitter campaign can accomplish this too with the points listed above and some ingenuity!

About the Author

Matthew Yeoman is a freelance writer currently living abroad. He writes for, several website design companies, and enjoys soccer about as much as any 10 year old boy. He resides in Cape Town, South Africa at this time.

  • Sita Gabriel

    7. Fight until you can’t win

    This is the best. Never give up!

    Thanks for the good read Matthew!