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Stefanie Kir
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Silent but deadly.
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How to Deal with Negative Press On Social Media

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Social media is fast becoming a business hub for transactions, customer service, marketing and analytics. In fact, any aspect of your traditional business structure can be neatly transitioned to the online space, where you can access a wealth of opportunities and new markets.

Beyond the obvious benefits for branding and audience engagement, social media allows you the chance to structure your business more effectively and transition your company to an online space so you can greet customers in an entirely new way.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that many Australian businesses are rushing to embrace the shift. But, just as many are nervous about the potential negative impacts social media could have on them. They see the negative comments their competitors receive and, rather than use what would otherwise be a handy tool, they opt out in a move to protect themselves against negative press.

However, there is a way to harness the negativity and turn it to your favour. After all, the way you handle negativity online says a lot about you as a business.

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Develop a clear-cut plan for responding

Great online customer service depends on providing your unhappy users timely, respectful responses. Show them the human side of your company and they’ll likely calm down quicker.

As the internet is so fast paced, it’s important that you’ve thought about the solutions to problems before they even arise. That way, when problems do come up, you have a ready-made plan of attack. From the outset, integrate a contingency plan into your marketing strategy. In your plan, you should think about what image your brand is trying to portray and choose your tone of voice accordingly.

Even more respected is your ability to admit mistakes and offer timely resolutions. Being humble in the face of mistakes – whether real or perceived – can turn the negative PR around on its head.

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Improve your business model

Sometimes, although they are aggravating, customer complaints can provide insight into how we can improve our business models. Our knee-jerk reaction is to scoff at the complainer and turn a blind eye. The next step – after resolving the problem, of course – is to critically assess why this person commented the way they did.

Perhaps they are taking to your Facebook timeline to let you know shipping took too long. In this case, you might look into offering expedited shipping options. If they are annoyed that you didn’t email them back, look into the range of contact options available and integrate something that lets you contact them sooner  – perhaps a click-to-call button would be perfect here.

Don’t take it too much to heart, though. Unless it’s a recurring problem, it’s likely your customer was miffed without proper cause. In that case, just let it go.

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By Stefanie Kir


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