Handling a corporate social media account

In this age of social networking, it’s hardly uncommon to see entire groups of people sitting around and checking their social media accounts on their phones. This advent of a new era where socialising is done via apps and comment boxes has pushed companies to open at least a Facebook account or be considered “out of touch.”

But do they really understand the power of social media and how to tap it? And most importantly: On a platform where all comments – good, bad or ugly – can be seen, not only by those who visit the page but also about half the world, do these companies know how to handle criticism?

Anybody can open an account, but not everybody knows how to use it well. Anybody can open an account, but not everybody knows how to use it well.

There have been cases where company accounts helmed by untrained individuals have responded in the wrong manner, leading to widespread derision by netizens nationwide (and sometimes worldwide.) Now, while all publicity is good publicity, you don’t want to alienate your customer base.

Here are 5 tips on handling the inevitable: Disgruntled customers who’ve decided to point out your company’s shortcomings to you and the rest of your fans and followers.

1.Should you or should you not respond?

There are internet “trolls” out there, who delight in poking around and stirring up trouble. There are also genuine consumers who have actual problems. Whoever is in charge of administrating the company social media accounts should be able to tell one from another and react accordingly, e.g: Deal with the problem and ignore the troll.

2.Quick action

When your team has received a complaint on, say, your Facebook wall, time is no longer on your side. Heads up: The time of the posting is recorded and displayed. And even the barest minimum of browsing will tell you that netizens do not like waiting. Queries and complaints are expected to be dealt with promptly. Joel Neoh, Chief Executive Officer of Groupon Malaysia and Groupon Taiwan says that, when crises occur, “the most important step for us is to quickly identify the problem and work towards a solution. To that end, our team in Groupon puts in the effort to work around the clock daily with our merchants and customers (our customer team operates 365 days a year, 8.00am till Midnight) to find immediate solutions.”


A good apology contains a) sincerity; and b) the offer of a solution. Everybody makes mistakes, it’s HOW you deal with them that people will remember the most. Will you strike back? Or would you be the problem solver instead? It can be as simple as saying that you’re sorry and that you would talk to the supplier straightaway, and here’s a gift card as a token of your apology. Do note though, the difference between saying “We’re terribly sorry this happened” and “We’re terribly sorry you feel that way.” When you’re adrift in a sea of complaints, one response could be your lifeboat, the other the tidal wave that swamps you; so pick your words wisely.

4.Be human

Corporations have long tried to give their companies faces and personalities, and it should extend to their social media personalities as well. By adding a name at the end of a comment, it can instantly humanise your entire post. People then realise they’re talking to an actual person with feelings, as opposed to a cog in the corporate machine.

5.Keep things open

When you get a negative review, it’s only natural to want to take things off the wall and into a private or direct message. But, if you do that people will not be able to see the problem being resolved. Transparency is the name of the social media game, and that’s what netizens have been accustomed to. Appearing to hide things, even if you’re fixing them in the background, will not do your company any favours. Besides, if they see how you fixed one problem, they may not have to ask for so much help when they face a similar issue!

Social media accounts encourage a more casual sort of interaction between customers and companies, however, there are still lines that cannot be crossed. A newly-launched local mall was recently the centre of controversy when their social media manager seemed to lose his or her cool over the recent flood of complaints, resulting in a stinging verbal slap back at a commenter. Profuse apologies later, the account now seems to be handled by someone perhaps a little more suited to the job. A note to all companies: Some training would help, not everybody who loves Facebook is completely suited to handling the heat when issues crop up.