Furious Social Media Users – Quelling The Terrors From Beyond

Social Media, one of the most powerful weapons in a companies arsenal, is becoming an increasingly common area for ventilation and frustration from angry customers. What were to happen if the customer base were to overtake that grand weapon and turn it against you? Well, many things could possibly happen. But the point of this article is to share with our readers how to sedate these angry customers without any collateral damage in the process.


According to Scott Levy in his article about What to Do When Customers Get Mean on Social Media, there are two types of customers that you can (and will) encounter if you ever own your own business with an online social medium. Levy states the two types are:

  • A person who was genuinely hoping for a good experience with your product or service, had a bad experience and simply wants to vent and seek acknowledgment or a solution.
  • Someone who actively uses social media to dissuade people from doing business with your company, and probably doesn’t care about your reply to his or her claims. This person hopes you do reply so he or she can drag you into a public fight.

Whether you are dealing with the unsatisfied customer or the brand terrorist, you must subdue them in a manner that shows everyone else you have the deepest condolences and will do whatever is necessary to make the customer happy. With this, you can turn any opposition into a friendly force and gain even more customers!

Now that we know who to watch out for and why we must subdue these customers before any damage can be done, lets break down the top 5 ways to proceed. All of the strategies to responding to angry customers are courtesy of Scott Levy.

1. Respond quickly. The longer someone waits for a reply the more steamed that person can become. Let the individual know publicly that you have heard his or her frustration or problem and that you’re on it.

2. Never show anger or engage in negative banter. Don’t stoop to an angry commentor’s level, as it can quickly escalate. Taking the high road and not replying with negativity sets you up for the win in the eyes of anyone who’s following along.

3. Be personal. The employees who manage your social media should sign their tweets or posts with their names or at least their initials to make the engagement more personable and real. Also be sure to address the customer by his or her name.

4. Work toward a resolution. Let the customer know that you’re going to do everything within your power to make the situation right. Don’t simply attempt to calm someone down and walk away.

5. Talk offline when necessary. Use direct messages on Twitter or email if the discussion is detailed. At least the initial response should be public, though, to let everyone know that you’re on the issue and that you care.

When everything is finally said and done, make sure the community knows the outcome of the situation. If no one ever hears what happened, they will assume the worst and may end up beginning to have doubts about the company themselves. This provides your online audience the comfort that you can give outstanding customer service.

But should the customer keep pestering you, even after a resolution was thought to have been reached, the only possible way to get rid of the customer is to let themselves burn out. Keep being the polite, customer loving company and let the community turn on them. If that doesn’t work, then your last resort is the good ole User Ban tool. Just make sure to share with the community that everything that could be done, was, and that they were simply out for blood. Based on your previous acts of compassion, the audience will surely understand (if not thank you) for getting rid of them.


9 thoughts on “Furious Social Media Users – Quelling The Terrors From Beyond

  1. The only downside with killing them with kindness is that on a lot of corporate Facebook pages, it seems that by being so kind, it loses that “social” feel, and the site goes back to becoming just another company page on the internet. Seeing some grit with companies can go a long way.

  2. It is so crucial for a company to respond quickly when a customer has something negative to say about their brand. I’ve seen so many cases where companies don’t emphasize the importance of quick response and as the article says, customers rebel back and then everything just goes south for the company. Very good article.

  3. CHStevens – Best case scenario, a business receives no negative feedback but when it does, it should not be every comment made on the Facebook page. (if so, that’s a whole other issue) This fact makes the “killing them with kindness” theory relevant.
    I think the point about letting the rest of the community know the resolution of the problem is key. Once a negative comment has been made on line it frequently attracts followers who also become emotionally attached to the situation for whatever reason. This ensures satisfaction across the board.

  4. It’s inconceivable to witness and/or realize how much power a customer truly has when it comes to their syntax in comments as connectors on social media and blogs. Companies try not to be affected by bad word of mouth, but sometimes it gets out of hand, this article brings light to how to fix a problem that could potentially cause ruckus and bad publicity to companies and their branding efforts. These simple 5 steps can save a company from negative escalating situations that I think is important both to large and small companies as a result of the technology driven society today.

  5. This article provides great advice to organizations, however it is unbelievable (and somewhat frustrating) how many of these organizations are not following these ‘golden rules’. A company that seems to be doing more bad than good is Starbucks. Although their content remains helpful and appropriate for followers and ‘likers’, Starbucks lacks in responding to concerned or angered customers on a regular basis. A company that seems to be doing well with addressing customer concerns is Chipotle. Chipotle’s social media team works around the clock to respond to every tweet or Facebook post, complimentary or destructive. Companies should certainly follow by Chipotle’s modern consumer-orientated style.

    • It’s surprising that Starbucks has a reputation for not responding to negative customer feedback. For a company that regularly incorporates customer wants into the menu, you’d think they would continue to prove that they care what their customers want.

  6. I also believe that this depends on your audience and how they respond to your opinions. If your brand is not the type of brand to take things in a kind manner, don’t take it in a kind manner. There are plenty of companies and brands out there, and each one responds differently to different types of situations. Respond accordingly.

    • This is a fair point. This makes me think about an Urban Outfitters holiday shirt that included the F word on it. They received a lot of bad press for the shirt but it almost made their supporters happier to be a part of the brand. I’m sure there were comments made on multiple social media sites about the tee shirt but I think it would have been the wrong decision for Urban Outfitters to apologize or take the shirt off the shelf because it fit the brand perfectly.

  7. The fact that the phrase “brand terrorist” even exists is reason enough to be thorough and diligent with irate users. Killing them with kindness is definitely the best overall tactic to use when dealing with upset customers, but i believe it really depends on the type of brand you are. Maybe a non-conventional approach would be better suited for say a brand that is perceived and edgy or alternative.

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