6 Ways to Handle Negative Buzz on Social Media Sites
While many large retailers have developed significant marketing presences on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites as a way to increase brand awareness, disgruntled consumers are increasingly using them as forums to complain about these companies and their mishaps.
How retailers manage this negative buzz was the subject of a recent eMarketer report titled "How Retailers Handle Negative Buzz on Social Media Sites." In the report, Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst, warned retailers they can't afford to take negative buzz lightly when it can adversely affect their reputation and sales.
While best practices for managing this type of buzz on social media sites are evolving, Grau laid out six recommendations for dealing with these incidences gleaned from social media and PR professionals, as well as retailers who have experienced attacks. They include the following:
- Look at negative buzz as an opportunity to strengthen bonds with customers, improve customer service and reaffirm corporate principles.
- Foster relationships with customer advocates, who can and will support brands when they're under attack.
- Always listen to what customers are saying, not just on social networks and Twitter, but also on ratings and reviews’ sites and blogs.
- Consider alternative solutions for resolving consumer complaints, such as taking them private via email or phone, which allows you to give your full attention. Also, consider creating a microsite or adding new website content to deal with an issue.
- Respond quickly, even if it's to say that a solution to a problem is forthcoming. Consumers want acknowledgement that their concerns have been heard and are being taken seriously. Doing so will make them more understanding that it takes time to arrive at an amicable solution.
- Plan responses for different types of negative buzz scenarios, and conduct “fire drills” on how to handle them to avoid panic should mass customer criticism occur.