How to Get the Most out of Complaining on Social Media

Who doesn’t love a good whine? Or wine…? Whatever.

Social media has given us direct access to brands and companies, which in turn has provided an effective channel to air our grievances to those brands and companies. It also allows you to make nasty comments directly to celebrities, and to struggling, South African comedy bloggers you’ve never even met on satirical posts you don’t completely understand.

Because you’re an asshole.

But here’s what I think a lot of people might not realise- most companies outsource their community management to an advertising agency- and we all know that everyone in advertising is an affected, failed art student with a highly functional drug habit, right? Even among the ones who get one of their own employees to manage the Twitters and the Facebooks, there is only one employee who probably isn’t being paid much to deal with your complaint.  And all any of them can do is escalate your complaint to the same people you were probably speaking to before you resorted to social media.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to get resolution for an issue online, it just means you need to recognise the limitations of the people and the medium itself, and complain in a way that makes it easier to assist you.

  1. Use your words

This is an actual excerpt of a complaint I received:

“So nje m nt hepi anymo cz u nva evn informed me as yo client.I Use to tel ol my frnds abt u guys bt nw No No no!my no is XXX XXX XXXX”

Needless to say, Google Translate was unable to assist. And this was just one line from a much longer message. No one is asking you to compose a sonnet of your disappointment, but if everyone who reads your complaint struggles to understand you, it’s going to eat into the time taken to reach resolution.

  1. Provide your details

Community managers handle properties with tens of thousands of community members. Even if we do respond online to each of the comments and complaints individually, there is NO WAY that the person you complain to on social media is the person who will actually handle your complaint over the phone or via email.

And when you refuse to provide your contact or account details to find you on the system, so that we can, you know, help you… then we can’t help you.

Try to give context about what your complaint is about, and as much information as possible, so that the next link in the chain can start helping you faster.

  1. It’s okay to be upset

 It’s okay to get angry and to voice your disappointment, but as soon as you start getting abusive and sweary, many community managers will take that as an opportunity to shut the conversation down and ban you. Just like store clerks would do in real life if you called them a ‘useless sack of dog dicks’.

By all means, say how upset you are and why, but keep it clean and above board to make sure your complaint doesn’t get kicked off the page.

  1. RTFC

That stands for: Read The Contract. Most of the complaints I deal with are because the people complaining have never read their contracts and have been surprised by a clause therein which is now causing them some serious butt-ache. Before you sign anything, read the contract, ask questions about the bits you don’t understand.

Any person or company who pushes you to sign up without understanding all the T’s and C’s isn’t worth signing up with.

So what’s the ‘F‘ stand for in the acronym?

Why, ‘full’, of course.


Anyway, what I’m saying is that it is your Internet-given RIGHT to complain and to get a response. But how quickly your problem turns into a solution (or in some cases, just bitter acceptance), can be influenced by you.

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