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Recently I had a discussion about handling negative comments in social media.
Handling negative comments is a big challenge even in the traditional world. When someone happens to comment negatively, we tend to get unduly worried and it causes a lot of stress and disturbance. Negativity punctures enthusiasm. Even false objections from others make us react badly with harsh replies. It is more so in the social-media-world because someone can blog or tweet or instantly share it with the online world in a way they want. If that comes from an influencer or from a person with large following, the results could be devastating for the reputation of a product or a brand.
Quoting the PR challenges section of my white paper,
Social media is about people talking to people. Today, customers are empowered by Social Media. They will talk about products and services all the time and on distributed networks. Organizations might feel that they are transitioning from complete control of their brand to zero control. However, it doesn’t mean that Social Media is bad for businesses. Even if businesses ignore Social Media, their customers are going to talk about them and a tactic that sees businesses ignore these conversations has the potential to be greatly damaging.
Handling negative comments is a difficult process and hence realizing from the start that there’s no way to control the social web and that responding is expected as part of the customer service is important.
The positive side of the negative comment is that you can find out about it faster and can take remedial steps if the comments are true and hence can help in damage control. Hence monitoring for any mention is critical. Developing a plan or protocol for the responsiveness is also important. A standard operating procedure to deal with negative comments is what would be ideal.
To achieve success, businesses should be sincere in their conversations. They should never try manipulative strategies to undermine their customer reactions. Instead, businesses should convert criticism into an opportunity to reach out to disgruntled customers and convert them into loyal ones.
Planning for response with proper training and policies will help. Understanding the nature of social conversations and the rules of the game is a must. Handling negativity should be part of your social media strategy.
Stay tuned for a how-to post with more examples and analysis.
Feel free to share how you handle negative reactions.