For many businesses, the advent of social media has been a godsend. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are great for building awareness with your key audiences and helping to develop the personality of your brand. In fact, for many start-ups, social media has been their main PR investment, and it has served them well, helping to build buzz and drive visitors into stores and onto websites.

We all know social media can be a good marketing tool and asset. It isn’t new anymore, although there are plenty of algorithmic updates and latest channels being introduced, for us all to keep abreast of. But, as digital goes, the majority of businesses have their finger on the pulse – they understand how to build a rapport with their community, the benefits of social SEO and how to incorporate key messages and build a narrative.  Great! Yet, many organisations are still refusing to face facts that social platforms are now the go-to channels for poor customer service.

As a consumer and social media user, I follow and like some of the brands I favour, as well as those I use (but have neither a great love nor hate of). What has struck me recently, when reading comments on my utility provider’s Facebook feed, was how neglected negative comments were in comparison to positive comments, which were rewarded. It’s not rocket science – surely ignoring these comments is more inflammatory than not!

We help with all facets of social from proactive to reactive from our Newcastle PR and Nottingham offices, so with this in mind, I’ve collated my top tips on dealing with negative social enquiries.

Be timely: According to Edison Research, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour. Whilst that might not always be feasible during non-working hours, during working hours it should be. Resourcing someone to handle negative social enquiries may seems like an expensive luxury but in reality it could mean safeguarding your current client base.

Consider separation: Over 30% of Interbrand100 companies use dedicated customer service handles on Twitter. This includes @AmazonHelps, @ASOS_Heretohelp and @Skyhelp. This separation strategy means all customer enquiries, whether negative or positive, won’t distract from brand marketing content on main social channels.

Messaging: As with any customer communications think about tone of voice and messaging. Use personable and friendly messages to show you’re a brand that cares and take time over creating tweets and posts, so they’re grammatically correct.

Diffuse the situation: The whole purpose of fielding these enquiries is to get to the root of the problem to resolve it. Don’t engage in long-winded social communications, revert the customer to a private message or email and ask for their number. Then continue all future communications via phone, private message or email.