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How to Complain Effectively via Social Media

Social media is flaming great, right? It has opened up a two-way conversation between the consumer and the businesses and brands that we love, use and give our money to. Of course, that all depends on the brand actually being active in the first place, but that's another story. Whether said brands like it or not, people do use social media to complain - the response to those complaints varies wildly, but it is a great way to get your point across to a brand that has 'ripped your knitting'. But what is the best way to go about this? Read on to find out.

1 - Keep cool!

Don't go out all guns blazing - '@brand I f***** hate you, your purple widget self combusted and ruined my favourite v-neck, sort it out or else!' Having been on the end of this type of complaint via social in my career, it does the complainer no favours, in fact, it's likely to lead to you being put to the bottom of the queue. Is that right? Well, not really, but you need to remember that there is a human sitting behind that social media platform, and us humans don't like to be abused. It also makes you look like a bit of a plonker.

Stay calm, get your point across and be prepared to wait a while for an answer - yes social should be fast, but in a realistic world, that isn't always possible. You should also be willing to take the complaint away from social media, perhaps to email in order to get a resolution - it can be hard for a business to help fully via social.

how to complain via social mediaStay cool! (image via timothykrause/flickr

2 - Don't Troll!

Nobody likes a troll, and brands are no different. Do not send multiple messages with the same complaint across multiple platforms, again, you'll just reduce your chance of getting served quickly. By all means, if you do not get a satisfactory response after a reasonable time period, go back and prompt them, but don't harangue!

customer service on social mediaThese trolls are cute. Web trolls aren't! (image via cali4beach/flickr)

3 - Send an email first

Email? Are you for real? Yes I am! Businesses have been dealing with complaints via email for over a decade, it is natural to most of them - social is not yet at that stage for many, so, send an email, then take to social and say - 'hello Mr Brand, I've got an issue with your product and have sent you an email, can you please take a look for me?'. This approach prompts them and may well lead to a quicker response.

brand engagementEmail isn't dead (image via cambodia4kidsorg/flickr)

4 - Buy an ad?!

Just this week, Twitter user Hasan Syed, bought a Twitter promoted tweet to complain to BA about lost luggage. This caused quite a stir in the press, and BA did get in touch with Hasan and resolved the issue. Personally, I think this was a bit over the top, especially as it appears he hadn't bothered to tweet them in advance of using the promoted tweet. BA run their Twitter from 9-5, which actually isn't really acceptable for a service that is 24/7 and across all time-zones. Dutch airline KLM, runs a 24/7 Twitter feed and does it very well. Hasan's approach did make BA stand up and take notice, but I'm not convinced it was really needed.

So, there you go folks, some tips on complaining with style via social media. How successful have you been with social media complaints? Do you think Hasan Syed's approach with BA was worth it?

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  • Mike McGrail's picture
    Sep 5 Posted 3 years ago Mike McGrail

    Very true! Brands are now held to account, which is great for the consumer, but can be hard for the brands, and as much as they need ensure they are geared up to deal with this modern age of comms, it can be very hard for them to do this effectively.

  • treptalks's picture
    Sep 4 Posted 3 years ago treptalks

    With the advent of social media, I think more and more Brands are recognizing that they just can't ignore even a single unsatisfied customer. Because that one person can cause a chain of events that can be hugely damaging to the band. - as your example about buying an ad demosntrates.

    In a way social media has created a sort of "Accountability" mechanism not just in business but in civic life as well. Nothing gets hidden anymore.

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