1. Have a social media complaints plan in place
Even the best of businesses will struggle to please 100% of customers 100% of the time, so it's important to have a plan in place for dealing with any negative comments that you get via social media. You don't need to be scared of negative feedback - if you deal with complainants quickly and appropriately, it can actually increase customer trust and loyalty.
2. Respond promptly
There are two key reasons why you need to take prompt action when you receive a customer complaint via social media: one, the complaintant expects it and two, the longer you delay, the more people (potential customers) are going to see just one side of the story.
Ideally, you should try to reply within an hour. It won't always be possible to resolve a complaint within that time, but it is possible to at least acknowledge it and suggest when you'll be able to have a full response - if you don't include a timeframe, you risk being chased publicly.
3. Admit mistakes
If you haven't met your customer's expectations, acknowledge it. Swerving blame is likely to encourage further criticism. Take responsbility, publicly apologise, and then try to find a solution.
4. Move the conversation offline
Keeping the complaint process on social media keeps it in the public eye and can encourage others to jump on the bandwagon. The apology has to be public, but after that, try to liaise with your customer one-to-one.