Over 75% of Americans use social media to research health symptoms. As a digital source of information, social media gives people an opportunity to connect and support one another throughout their medical journeys.

However, a digitally active consumer means there is an increased chance of social media comments – both positive and negative.

In the healthcare industry, responding to social media comments can be a challenge. With strict FDA regulations, many healthcare companies are hesitant to be active on these platforms at all. However, social media is integral to any well-rounded marketing strategy, allowing your company to interact with patients, provide product information and share valuable industry insights.

If your company is going to be present on social media, you need to be prepared to respond to users who interact with your brand. As social media expert Jay Baer states, “a lack of response is actually a response. It’s a response that says, ‘We don’t care about you very much.’”

In order to help you avoid the anxiety that often surrounds negative social media comments, we’ve come up with a guide to help you smoothly navigate this rocky territory.

What to Do

 

  1. Be Timely – People want to be heard. If someone comments or posts a question, address it quickly. With a fast reply, the individual will see that you care what they have to say. Furthermore, other consumers who view the post will see that your company appreciates consumer feedback. In fact, 85% of consumers using Facebook expect an answer within only six hours, and 64% using Twitter expect a response within an hour. Therefore, a fast response meets the needs of today’s demanding digital consumer.

 

  1. Be Private – If you receive a negative comment, aim to limit how much you say publicly. You should always acknowledge the post; however, you don’t want to go back and forth with a consumer on a public platform. The situation could turn worse and hurt your brand if it goes too far. Therefore, your response should always be polite and courteous, but request that the conversation be transferred to a private avenue. For instance, reply to the negative comment by saying something like, “(Name) we are disappointed that you had a bad experience. Could you please give us a call at 555-5555 so we can work through the issue with you?” By replying to a comment in a short but direct way, you address the issue, keep the details private, and maintain a positive brand image.

 

  1. Be Personable – Humanize the communication. No one wants to receive an auto-response from a company. Make the consumer understand that they are conversing with a real human, rather than just a robot. To achieve this, respond in a personalized manner using the person’s name and giving direct responses to their inquiries. Your personable reply will show that you care about what they say and be perceived a brand that values every consumer.

What Not to Do

 

  1. Ignore – Don’t let negative comments go unanswered. When people comment on social media, they expect a response. If you ignore them, it’s like having an empty call center. You lose prospect interest and diminish the strength of your brand image. By staying responsive, you are opening up an opportunity for further communication with consumers. It will allow you to reframe the conversation and build a deeper connection with the patient or prospect.

 

  1. Delete – Deleting a comment is the worst route to take. Not only will this create a negative perception of your brand, but it’s likely to anger the person who commented in the first place. They could even take it a step further by reposting the comment and saying something regarding your deletion. You don’t want your consumers thinking you have something to hide. Remain transparent in your messaging and your consumers will trust you.

  1. Oppose – The customer is always right. Whether or not you agree with their opinion, the consumer has a major impact on the reputation of your brand. Many people ask their friends for health advice or look to other consumers for reviews. In fact, an astounding 90% of adults age 18-24 said that they would trust medical information shared with others in their social networks. Therefore, the consumer’s happiness should be your main goal when responding to social media comments.

 If you’re unsure about how to approach a negative comment, consult with a public relations professional. They can help you craft a courteous reply and ensure that it complies with the law to avoid legal issues.

Conclusion

As a major communication tool, it’s evident that social media plays a big role for today’s consumers. In order to be successful on these platforms, you must remain active and engage with your consumers.

Be sure to craft timely replies, keep conversations private, and make it a personable experience for the consumer. At the same time, you should avoid ignoring, deleting, or opposing social comments.

Social media is a digital powerhouse. It can help your healthcare company to stand out from the rest. A well-crafted response to a negative comment could turn a sour prospect into an engaged customer.