At this point in time, there’s no denying it: brands need social media—regardless of what industry you might be in.

Posting content and becoming a go-to source for news within your industry are just a few of the ways social media can provide value to businesses. It gives your followers an inside look at who you are as a brand, establishes credibility, and gives you a chance to grow your audience.

But with putting your brand in the social media limelight, comes the risk of receiving an occasional negative comment, but this shouldn’t be cause for panic.

You might be thinking, “Won’t negative comments turn other potential customers away?”

Not necessarily, negative feedback also provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your customer service. In fact, resolving negative issues can result in 3 times more potential revenue for brands than positive reviews alone.

When negativity inevitably appears, equip yourself with different tactics for handling it. Here are 5 major ways brands can combat negativity on social media.

1. Respond Publicly As Quickly As Possible

When you receive a negative comment on one of your brand’s social media pages or posts, and the comment warrants engagement, respond to it publicly. This doesn’t just make a difference to the person who made the comment — it ensures others in your online community will see that you are proactive in handling customer complaints. It’s also an opportunity to show your professionalism and empathy for your customers.

Additionally, it pays to respond as quickly as you can to a negative comment. You may not realize how much of a difference it makes, but in fact, 42% of consumers expect a response time of less than an hour whenever they try to contact a brand on social media. Of course, take a few minutes to think of an appropriate, polite response, but don’t delay too much — it may end up costing you future business.

 2. Take The Conversation Somewhere Private

Taking the conversation to a private message shows the customer in question that you value what they have to say and that you’re committed to providing a solution. But it also means hiding more potential negativity from your other customers.

You never know how a dissatisfied customer is going to respond to your attempts to help in any situation. And if things get messy, you don’t want it to be public to your entire following and their friends.

3. Be Understanding, Not Snippy

A lot of the time, unhappy customers just want to know they are being heard. Have empathy, and really listen. It’s one of the quickest ways to put out a fire before it’s really even started.

This is because showing empathy is a simple way to illustrate that your brand is customer-centric. How do you do this? It’s simple — respond like a human being, not a brand. At the end of the day, businesses are made of people, and your customers want to know that yours is, too.

So show them that their concerns are valid. If your brand has something to apologize for, say so. And no matter how the customer acts, keep your reactions calm and polite. Professional doesn’t have to mean stoic, but it does mean maintaining a sense of decorum.

4. Offer A Valuable Solution

Of course, no matter what you say to a distraught customer, it won’t make a bit of difference if you don’t showcase any follow-through. If there’s a simple solution for fixing the customer’s problem, go ahead and fix it.

If it’s a bigger issue than you have the capacity to handle yourself, pass the customer along to a customer service representative. But often, there are easy enough actions that will contribute to an overall positive experience for the customer — and hopefully one they will tell others about. For example, you could offer an exclusive coupon code for them to put towards their next purchase.

5. Know When Not to Engage

Finally, it’s important to know how to engage so you can turn a negative comment into a positive experience. But unfortunately, you sometimes just can’t win.

“Trolling” may happen on your brand page or posts, and often, it has nothing to do with your product or service. These comments may be aggressive and/or derogatory in some way (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.).

Rather than engaging with the people making these comments, focus more on making sure your community knows that your company does not tolerate hate speech. Make it clear, in your company bio or “About Us” section, what you will and will not accept on your brand’s page.

As stated earlier, you can’t fully prevent negative comments from appearing on your brand’s social media. But you can control how those negative instances are handled. With a little foresight, you’ll be able to turn those negative comments into positive experiences — and, hopefully, many more happy customers down the road.