Handling Negative Social Media Publicity
By Tara Lappe—Marketing Coordinator, WebStrategies, Inc., February 18, 2011
While the internet brings so many positive things to us personally and professionally, one challenging element is that anyone anywhere can say just about anything about anybody – and that includes comments about your business and employees. The social media platforms, like Facebook, and all the emerging ratings sites, like Angie’s List, have become a huge avenues for consumers to learn about you, rate you, communicate with you and share with the world information about your brand.
When opportunities are available to speak opinions and share feedback somewhat “anonymously”, not all conversation is positive. There is no way to avoid negative comments or jabs at your company or brand, but you can arm yourself with the right tactics to face it, and move on. Do you know how to identify the different types of negative social media feedback? Has your company established processes to handle them accordingly?
Your answer to these questions very well might be “NO”. In a recent survey of IT professionals, it is reported that only 14% of companies have formal processes in place for handling customer complaints on Facebook. Even more alarmingly is that as little as 12% have these procedures in place for tackling negative Twitter comments.
Negative feedback via social media platforms and ratings sites comes in several forms and each are dealt with differently. The most essential thing to remember is that in whatever form the negative feedback arrives, you must stay positive in your responses.
Actual & Perceived Issues: Someone who has bought your service or product might be angry at its quality or your customer service. Determine if this comment is a result of an actual problem that has occurred or if the person just perceives a problem with the way your business operates. Either way, provide a general response thanking the poster for their feedback and let them know that the problem will be addressed. You can even go as far as to say how you plan to solve the issue moving forward.
Helpful Suggestions & Criticism: A consumer might post or tweet that your business should perform better in a certain arena or improve a product offering. These types of feedback can be invaluable—they provide you as a business owner constructive criticism that may help you improve your products and services. Any sort of criticism must be acted on with a response. By doing so, you enhance credibility and consumers believe that you genuinely care about their feedback and care about they way they perceive you.
Hard Hits: Your company has done something to instill anger and warrant ill feelings in a consumer. They are lashing out via social media to vent their frustrations. While you may take this type of negative feedback personally, it is in your best interest to respond with a positive attitude. Thank the poster for their comments and assure them that you will handle it appropriately.
As a general rule, respond to negative feedback in a positive manner, even if you are downright offended by the comment. There will always be loyal fans and dissatisfied users of your products and services. Both types of consumers will likely share their feelings via tweet or post. Don’t think that deleting these comments will solve the problem. That will only make you look ignorant. It’s in your best interest to establish ways to deal with the problems and continue to hope for posts from raving and satisfied customers.