Posting a Complaint on Social Media: Our Top 10 Tips

Social Media Icons on SmartphoneSocial Media Icons on Smartphone
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Is it time for the airing of grievances?

Here’s how to voice your concerns so that you get an effective response.

We’ve all been there: You’re at the airport getting ready to embark on a vacation, only to find out your flight has been delayed three hours. Or, you’re trying to check into a hotel but the front desk can’t find your reservation. Before you panic or flip out, though, consider lodging a complaint on social media.

Nearly half (46%) of consumers have used social media to “call out” or complain about a business, according to a recent survey by Sprout Social, which sells social media tracking software for businesses. The bad news? Only about one in 10 messages to companies on social media receive a response.

Don’t let your complaint to get lost in the vacuum. Take these steps to make sure your voice is heard and get the results you’re looking for.

Be specific

Don’t just say that you’re “having a problem” or “need assistance”—provide specific information explaining what the issue is. How many days was your luggage lost by the airline? Were there stain-covered carpets or cockroaches in your hotel room? Why did the rental car break down? These kinds of details provide customer service professionals with context.

The caveat: Social media isn't always the right place for consumers to go when they have complex issues, like when they miss a flight because someone is sick.

Use relevant hashtags to gain traction

Weave appropriate hashtags into your Facebook or Twitter post to increase exposure. See what’s trending: If a lot of other flyers are tweeting #JetBlueFail, for instance, follow their lead.

Mind your appearance

To increase the likelihood of receiving a response, your own social account has to look professional. On Twitter, for example, if you don’t have a bio or you’ve never tweeted before, the company might think you’re account is fake. Having a professional looking profile picture can also affect your response rate. Read: complaining from an account that has a custom photo—say, a simple headshot of yourself—is more effective than complaining from a Twitter account with the default egg or from a Facebook account with a gray-and-white silhouette.

Tweet at the right account

Check to see if the business you’re targeting has a social media account that’s dedicated to supporting customer service (e.g., @ASOS_HeretoHelp and @comcastcares). Indeed, more than one third of top brands have a Twitter handle they use to directly support complaints, according to social analytics firm Simply Measured.

However, make sure the company is actively using the account. Hootsuite, a social media management tool, has a @Hootsuite_Help Twitter account, but its last tweet was on November 28, 2018.

Don’t be afraid to write more than one message

If you don’t receive a response, don’t give up. In fact, lodging multiple messages for the same complaint may help you receive a response. The more you gripe, the more likely it is that other customers will see your complaint—and no business wants to have a bad reputation. In fact, about 74% of millennial Twitter users said they would be less likely to buy from a brand that has negative comments from other consumers on social media platforms, a recent survey from Twitter and enterprise social technology company Sprinklr found.

Think about timing

Though some companies check their social media accounts and respond to complaints around the clock, other businesses are only monitoring their accounts during regular business hours. By posting your complaint within that window, you may be more likely to receive a response. Another pro tip: don’t lodge a complaint on social media during a holiday expecting a timely response.

Leave a Facebook review

Worried that the company will just delete your complaint and erase all evidence that you have an issue? Fortunately for consumers, companies can’t remove reviews on Facebook that customers wrote if they’re truthful. This can give customers bargaining power—for instance, by offering to delete your own review when the business resolves your issue, you’ll be in a much stronger position.

Stay calm

No matter how frustrated you get, the last thing you want to do is go on a tirade against a company on social media. It’s like berating a customer service agent on the phone—you’ll probably get nowhere, and the employee may have been able to assist you had you kept a cool head. So, avoid using expletives, put downs, or sarcasm when writing your complaint.

Avoid posting personal information

Don’t publicly share your phone number, email address, or account information in messages to companies on social media. If you do, you could be exposing yourself to spammers or potentially even hackers.

Be clear about what you want

Ask yourself what your goal is. Are you looking for a full refund? Do you want a free upgrade to first class on your next flight? Knowing what your end game is—and articulating it clearly in your message—is crucial.

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