What do I do if..? How to handle complaints, mistakes and trolls on Twitter


We share our top Twitter tips on how to combat trolls, help unhappy customers and deal with mistakes.

Got the basics of Twitter down but panic when faced with a crisis? In training workshops and client meetings we are often asked what to do about a Twitter pickle, so we’ve got plenty of advice ready to dispense. Here are some of our most-asked questions, and the advice we like to give.

What do I do if I make a mistake on Twitter?

Made a spelling error or tagged the wrong person? It happens to all of us, but there are a few ways to avoid mistakes.

Prevention is better than cure. Whether you’re running a big brand account or a personal one, advanced planning will reduce the risk of mistakes. If you’re using your account professionally it is a good idea to schedule posts in advance because posting ad hoc means mistakes creep in. Try using a content plan or social media scheduling tool; doing this will also ensure your marketing messages are correct, timely and effective.

You can delete it. There’s no hard and fast rule about whether you should delete an incorrect update or not, it depends on the situation. If you spot it seconds after you’ve posted it, then it is usually fine to delete and post the update again.

If you're a large public-facing organisation, for example a news outlet or government body, transparency in your social media communications is essential. So whether you delete it or not, you should explain your approach, as Reuters have done here.

Acknowledge your mistake. If the tweet has been up for a while or if it has had responses then it is best to keep it up. Has anyone pulled you up on your mistake? Politely reply and acknowledge your mistake, you might even be able to make light of it!

Use the ‘quote tweet’ feature to excuse yourself from the mistake too, that’s always a good way to address the problem and get some humour from the situation. This, of course, depends on the subject matter and your business too. Try to take a step back and make that judgement based on your experience.

Source:  giphy

Source: giphy

What do I do if I get a complaint?

Twitter opens up lines of communication between a brand and the customer, which can be beneficial for customer relationships, but you are open to complaints. What should you do?

1.   Respond quickly – the quicker you address the situation the less likely it will escalate. Acknowledge their tweet politely within 1 hour and offer your assistance.

2.   Don’t ignore them – This isn’t good for the customer or for your brand. Research by Provide Support showed that 88% of consumers were less likely to buy if they saw unaddressed complaints.

3.   Use DMs or email – remove the potential for further negative comments and protect personal information by making the conversation private. Follow the person and direct message them to ask for their email or their phone number. You can then handle the complaint as you would an offline complaint.  

4.   Don’t delete the complaint – this can make a brand look very unprofessional or suggest a cover up. If you’ve responded properly below then other followers will see that and the negative tweet can remain. Only delete if a customer is being abusive, offensive or explicit in any way.

5.   Ask why it happened – is the customer’s complaint reflective of weaknesses in your company? Look into the problem internally and see if, for example, you can improve the way orders are delivered or the content on your website.

What do I do if someone is trolling me on Twitter?

If someone is repeatedly sending you negative tweets while refusing to be reasoned with they are likely to be trolling you. This can happen whether you’re tweeting from a personal or brand account.

First of all, do they have a genuine complaint or enquiry and have you dealt with it? If you’ve solved the issue then the customer should be happy. Some tweeters may continue to lambast you which can be hard to deal with.

What should you do?

·        Don’t retaliate. You don’t have to respond to abusive or negative tweets if you haven’t done anything wrong. If you stoop to the same level things tend to get worse and you could come off looking worse.

·        Mute or block. If you owned a shop and a customer was abusive to your staff, you could ask them to leave. In the same way, if someone is repeatedly trolling you, you can mute or block them. Generally speaking, people troll because they want the attention, even if they receive a negative response.

Image: Twitter help center

Image: Twitter help center

If you are particularly concerned about a person’s behaviour you can also report them to Twitter.

Recently Twitter released new privacy features that go some way to helping people cope with trolls. You can mute notifications in your timeline from people who:

1.   You don’t follow

2.   Who have a default profile photo (known as a Twitter ‘egg’ )

3.   Who haven’t confirmed their email 

4.   Who haven’t confirmed their phone

The second feature is particularly useful as many people will create shell accounts to tweet abuse from. Find out more on the Twitter website.

What do I do if my Twitter account is hacked?

If your account is hacked, immediately change your password. Do you use the same password anywhere else? Change those too.

Next, set up two-step verification which adds an extra layer of security to your account. When you login, instead of just entering a password, you are also sent a text message with a verification code. This ensures only you can access the account. If your team needs to login they should use third party software like Sprout Social or Hootsuite to schedule tweets and manage the account.

Finally, check the ‘Apps’ section of your Twitter account. When you use social media tools and other services they will need access to your account so that they work with Twitter. Occasionally these types of software can be hacked or compromised, so it is best to ‘revoke access’ to those you’ve not used for a while or are not familiar with.

Managing a social media crisis

Social media isn’t always a bed of roses but getting your head around some of these thorny issues can help you get the most out of it for your organisation. Once you know how, you’ll be able to deal with a crisis quickly, calmly and efficiently!

Want a Twitter expert on your side? Get in touch today to learn more about our strategy services.