Social media is not always an ideal marketing tool. When you give customers a platform for discussing your brand, there’s always risk associated with it. This risk involves the publishing of negative backlash, bad reviews and damaging comments - available for anyone with an Internet connection to see.
While you can’t completely avoid negative comments on social media, you can establish a plan for responding to it in a professional and responsible manner that reflects well on your brand. Here are a few helpful tips and techniques:
1. Don't Take It All Seriously
It’s important to take a stop and realize that some negative comments are simply a byproduct of the world in which we live. Many of today’s customers have grown up in an online world that’s characterized by cyberbullying. They feel safe hiding behind a cloak of anonymity and don’t often consider the far-reaching effects of what they say and do. This has produced a “troll” mentality in which people will purposefully and maliciously attack other individuals – and companies – online for the purpose of getting a rise out of them.
You have to be aware of trolling and don't allow people to get under your skin to satisfy their warped cries for attention. These are times when it’s best to just let things go and ignore isolated negative comments that have no basis in reality.
2. You Need to Listen
You won't know if people are saying negative things about your brand if you aren’t able to find the comments and reviews. Check out Google Alerts – as well as social media monitoring tools – that notify you when your brand has been mentioned in online conversations. This lets you see what’s happening and gives you a chance to respond or defend yourself, should it become necessary.
3. Don't Get Defensive
When you’re facing a negative comment – particularly one that you don’t feel like is accurate – it’s very easy to get defensive. You have to remember that anything you say or post is visible to everyone, though. You can’t afford to get defensive and go after the customers. This will make you look like a bully or a sore loser – neither of which are good for your brand image.
4. Acknowledge Your Mistakes
It’s possible that the negative comments your company receives on social media are justified and true. If so, you need to work quickly to provide an apology to the affected customers and make a promise to do better in the future. Social listening should have a primary role within an organization. While the social media manager will monitor the feeds daily, stakeholders should also keep an ear to the digital ground to identify any positive or negative sentiment/comments online that a social media tool may miss.
5. When to Take Things Offline
While it’s a good idea to resolve issues online in a visible manner, there are times when it’s more appropriate to continue the discussion offline. For example, if a customer is making a claim that you didn’t follow through on a particular service or product, you may need to ask for verification before refunding them their money. Instead of involving thousands of followers in the process, move the conversation to a more private, secure place. For example, brands can offer to call a customer, or request they direct message them with more details.
While hard to watch people talk negatively about your brand, you can’t ignore it when it comes to something as visible as social media. Even if you’ve never dealt with negativity in the past, it’s important that you develop a strategy now and take a proactive stance against this issue.