5 Ways to Handle Negative Comments

Branding, Online Marketing, Social Media Aug 31, 2016 No Comments

Turning Scared CEOs into Social Media Supporters

No matter how well-respected your brand, how brilliant your customer service, or how sincere you are with your community, you’ll inevitably face that thing that strikes fear in the hearts of many CEOs and business owners — negative reviews, unflattering feedback or potentially brand-killing commentary from someone in your community. That fear is the single factor holding back even the most forward-thinking manager from entertaining social media activities.

You know this type of manager. You’ve developed a comprehensive social media strategy, outlining all the awesome things you plan to do online and how you’re going to engage your customers to generate all kinds of new revenue for the company. You take your plan to the executives and they refuse your innovative ideas by raising issues of potential negativity and brand-busting. Why in the world would we risk putting ourselves on the line to invite negative commentary? Because the negative can be easily turned into positives with five easy steps.

Five Steps You Should Take to Address Negative Comments Online

1. Ignore Negative Comments at Your Own Peril

Never ever ever ignore negative feedback about your brand. Some brand managers still believe it’s a good idea to ignore negative posts, preferring instead to remain silent, praying they go away. Wouldn’t your response just bring more attention to the issue? This is the old way of thinking. It’s crucial you respond to every issue as soon as possible. If you don’t take the initiative, you voluntarily give up control, something you can’t do if you plan to succeed in social media. Resolve the issue publicly if possible. But sometimes you may find it necessary to take the discussion offline, handling it via email or with a phone call. There’s a possibility you may find some truth in the negative review, allowing you to permanently fix something that’s broken with your brand. As an effective communicator you should be able to resolve the issue and turn it around.

2. Goes Without Saying – Be Nice

Be as open, honest and transparent as possible. Social media is a very transparent medium, and you as brand manager must be as forthcoming and sincere as possible. Responding in a way that appears argumentative, defensive or condescending will backfire. Remember, in the community, you’re the face of the brand, and as such you need to be thoughtful, courteous and considerate even under difficult situations. If handled properly, your most vocal critic may actually be turned into a brand champion.

3. Live the Promise of Your Brand Everywhere

If your brand is truly a good brand, you must maintain your promise across every channel.
It’s important that in all interactions — online and offline, with customers and employees — that you maintain the integrity of your company, product or service everywhere. This starts in the workplace — with employees on the factory floor, with management and in the executive suite. If your company actually holds true to the values it claims, it will be evident in all your promotional efforts. Brands that are honest with themselves are rarely criticized. If you find you’re getting a lot of negative feedback, it’s likely you’re not as good as you think you are. Frequent online criticisms often result from a larger issue with the brand itself. Resolving negative feedback may be your opportunity to permanently change your brand for the better.

4. Develop a Contingency Plan

All social media activity should be based on a comprehensive social media strategy. This should include a clearly defined contingency plan that everyone involved in your social outreach is abiding by. Before embarking upon the world of social media, you should identify every conceivable situation that might arise and determine a plan of action to address each. Depending on your business, this might be a simple Q&A document or a more detailed crisis plan. And since there’s no way you’re going to identify every possible situation up front, make this blueprint a working document and add to it as new issues arise.

5. Never Fake or Stage Positive Reviews

Strategically placed reviews are a big ‘No No!’ There’s few things worse for your community than to be subjected to overly positive reviews that have obviously come from the corporate PR department. Considered established practice for some unethical spin doctors, strategic placement of positive reviews are unacceptable. Your community will see through overly-flowered and faked reviews, and you’ll lose all the credibility you worked to build.

Turn Your Detractors Into Your Evangelists

Our recommendations aren’t entirely ground-breaking, nor hard to implement. Simply put, when faced with negative online feedback, as a responsible brand that’s truly one of the “good guys,” you must respond like a genuinely concerned human being who’s a sincere member of the community, and interested in resolving the situation. No matter how cliché it may sound, the customer really is always right. And it’s your job to make sure they know you understand that.

Related posts:

  1. How to Censor Your Social Media and Still Thrive at Word-of-Mouth Marketing
  2. How to Monitor Your Social Media Campaigns in 30 Minutes or Less
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