Two truths that will forever be part of building a brand:
1. Your customers will always talk about you.
2. Everyone makes mistakes.
Social media has brought major changes to the world of customer communication. On Facebook and Twitter, customers control the conversation. Two-way communication is vitally important in this space.
1. Straight problems: Someone has an issue with your product or service and says exactly what went wrong. This type of feedback is negative in that it paints your business in a poor light, but can help expose real problems you need to address.
2. Constructive criticism: Even more helpful is a comment that comes with a suggestion. Many customers—including some of your most loyal ones—will use social media to suggest ways in which you can improve your product or service. While this type of feedback may point out your flaws, it can be extremely helpful.
3. Merited attack: While the attack itself may not be merited, the issue that prompted it is important in this type of negative feedback. You or your company did something wrong, and someone is angry.
4. Trolling/spam: The difference between trolling and a merited attack is trolls have no valid reason to be angry at you. Spammers are also in this category because they will use a negative comment about your product or service—whether true or not—to promote a competing service.
There will always be individuals who disagree with your brand’s comments or suggestions. You can’t please everyone all the time—it’s a fact of life. But, how you deal with people online is much different than how you may have dealt with constructive criticism in the past.
Facebook probably sees more negative feedback than other social networks. How should you deal with those negative comments? Follow these guidelines:
1. Respond no matter what.
Jim Belosic of Social Media Examiner has a great post about dealing with upset fans. He says, “It’s vitally important that the complaints and issues your fans pose on your wall are addressed. Inactivity on your part will appear as though you’re trying to ignore the issue and sweep it under the rug.”
2. Use four simple words.
According to Gini Deitrich from Spin Sucks, “There are four words that work really well online. They are, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you.’ It’s amazing what happens when you admit your mistake and apologize. Suddenly the issue becomes a non-issue because there isn’t anything to complain about.”
3. Contact all involved parties privately.
Facebook gives you the option to contact users via the messaging feature. Contact each party involved and make them feel special. Remember, 90 percent of social media is narcissism. (I made that statistic up.)
4. Don’t delete content unless policies are in place.
Deleting negative feedback will result in more comments you can’t control, but there are many issues that merit deletion. Heather Lynn Herr from Right This Minute offers these reasons to delete content:
- Verbal abuse
- Inappropriate language
- Pornographic content
- Blatant antagonistic behavior toward other community members
It is imperative that you have a policy on your Facebook page if you choose to delete content. Be open and honest with your Facebook community. Your fans will love you for it.
5. Deflect to a more positive discussion.
Laurel Papworth recommends you try to move away from the negative conversation and toward a more positive one. She says, “Thank the commenter, ask for more information and then bury them in talking. If there is more than one negative reviewer, try the ‘Thank you, oh look, something shiny!’ approach.”
What approach works best for you?
Kyle Lacy is principal of marketing research & development for ExactTarget, a leader in integrated and cross channel marketing solutions.