Social Media is a far-reaching, extremely valuable tool for advertising and marketing. That is, well... until it isn't. Being able and prepared to handle negative online criticism can be the difference between a small but unfortunate event your company can learn from and 'irreparable damage that your company may never recover from.'
Turn Criticism into a Learning Opportunity - Show the customer (and the world) that you are dedicated to resolving the situation, making amends, and ensure that your followers see that you have learned from this and are taking action to prevent it. It is recommended that you reach out to the upset user immediately. Give the customer a way to contact someone.
For example: 'We apologize for any problems you experienced with our [company/product/service/etc.] Contact us at [supply an email] and we will resolve your issues right away.'
A response from the person who made the complaint that your company 'went above and beyond' speaks volumes, and warm fuzzies will be had by all.
Use 'DELETE' Wisely - There are occasions where an ill-timed comment by a teenager or a snide remark by an ex-employee can make a little blip on your company's social media page. Using discretion, you may find the best way to handle this it to quietly delete the comment. Be warned, however, that having a series of angry posts accusing you of deleting criticisms from consumers and ignoring your problems can easily snowball. It's better to take action quickly, respond, and appreciate the criticism. Deleting a complaint doesn't make it go away.
Tell the Truth - Once there is deception on the part of a company -- or by anyone who represents your organization -- they lose reputation, authority, and credibility with extremely valuable clients and prospects. The best way to avoid this situation is not to get into it in the first place. Don't use 'dummy' Facebook or Twitter accounts to post on your own accounts. This can be a public relations nightmare if revealed. Instead, encourage actual customers that are happy with your work to comment on your page. Real testimonials and peer recommendations go a long way.
The Internet Never Forgets - Do not argue with a customer via social media posts, under any circumstances. Even if five or more years have passed, odds are that if it was on the internet then someone can find it and bring it up again. The best way to steer clear of something volatile is to communicate with your clients privately, either via e-mail or telephone. If the disagreement was never on social media, then you have less reason to worry about it resurfacing at an extremely in opportune time.
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