Home Entrepreneurship How to Have Difficult Conversations on Twitter

How to Have Difficult Conversations on Twitter

by Olufisayo
Conversations on Twitter

Sometimes you have the chance to have difficult conversations face to face, but in this world of ubiquitous social media, you have to be prepared to respond online. Unfortunately, people tend to be a little less polite and a little more aggressive when they are interacting with a company or person from behind a computer screen. It can get awkward and emotional — and it’s even worse when you have a character limit on your response.

While some of these platforms provide the opportunity to offer a lengthy response, Twitter does not. You have to be prepared.

Conversations on Twitter

Understanding Twitter

Twitter unfolds in real-time. On your feed, you see short posts as they are made. Conversations unfurl in a series of @replies. They are notoriously difficult to follow. While Twitter is working on the problem, they haven’t solved it yet. When you respond to a post, you need to remember that your comment could be seen out of context.

Number Questions and Replies

One strategy is to start numbering questions and replies. This makes it easier to track statements, and it clarifies that your post is tied to a previous one. If someone reads your comment and sees “1/3,” he or she will know that you have more to say on the subject.

Space Out Answers

Also, be careful that you don’t talk over someone. Spacing out questions and answers will help you appear more thoughtful. If you need to, keep track of those posts to which you would like to respond, then get back to each person in turn.

Collect Information

Figure out what the problem is, both your perception of it and how the other person might perceive the matter, as well. This will help you understand the issue at hand and determine the type of response that is required.

Consider too what it is that you want to achieve. If you cannot come up with a good reason to respond, then don’t — or consider take a more humorous approach. Learn from other companies such as JetBlue and T-Mobile, which are known for their excellent customer service on social media.

Frame the Conversation

How you start a conversation determines the outcome. If you try to respond to an emotional customer with an emotional response, you set a tone for the conversation that is not going to go well. Be positive and helpful, but not patronizing.

Focus on the Problem

If a customer is upset and venting about your company on Twitter, you need to respond. Otherwise, it looks like that person’s concerns are falling on deaf ears. Also, your other Twitter users are going to see that your company is proactive and concerned about customer satisfaction

Avoid Being Confrontational

You always want to avoid coming off as confrontational. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using “you” statements (e.g., you don’t understand, you didn’t read the warranty). Instead, stick with “I” sentences (e.g., I don’t understand, I see you are having problems that are not covered by your warranty).

Confront and Educate

Sometimes it’s better to confront rumors or misinformation with the public — but don’t just deny the statement. Use it as an opportunity to educate followers on the truth of the matters. Amway is a good example. This direct sales company has learned positive ways to have difficult conversations on social media. It makes a point to respond to posts that say Amway is a scam, and to do so in a way that is productive.


Social media may not be the place to air concerns, but you can’t ignore the things your customers are saying — especially on Twitter. Start by understanding the social media platform and its limitations. Always number responses and space out answers. Collect information before responding and frame the conversation while focusing on the problem and avoiding confrontation. Finally, make a point to confront and educate whenever you can.

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