Come Again? 4 Steps for Handling Those ‘Oh, No He/She Didn’t’ Moments on Social Media

How to represent your brand in the face of complaints, negative feedback or false accusations

R&B crooner Chris Brown and writer-comedian Jenny Johnson got into a heated Twitter spat on Sunday, which not only caused numerous social media users to weigh in on the issue but Brown to quit the platform altogether.  And while many took notice due to the high-profile nature of those involved, back-and-forth exchanges happen on the daily on social networking sites.

Disgruntled customers or naysayers existed long before social media, however, in the digital age, it is imperative to remember that online chatter is public and leaving an issue open-ended can potentially damage your reputation. Engaging with an unhappy consumer in a positive, honest manner can turn them into your next evangelist. Some large corporations are beginning to devote entire teams to interacting with customers and prospects online, but small businesses rarely have that luxury. If you encounter negative feedback or an inaccurate accusation on social platforms, here’s how you can respond and implement a strategy with your brand:

Stay on top of the issue

With the expanding list of social media monitoring tools such as HootSuite, Google Alerts, Klout, and Social Mention, the ability to sort through clutter and address issues is as simple as a click of your mouse.

Layout your strategy

Create a social media plan that includes business rules for responding to negative comments or complaints.  Identify as many possible scenarios as possible with your team and develop a course of action to address the onslaught.

Make your priorities known

As part of your social media strategy, chart your approach for what types of individuals and posts you are willing and able to address online. Trying to respond to every negative post is not the most efficient strategy; nor is turning a blind eye.  There is a high probability that some situations are better left alone such as those that involve ethics or legal woes.

Take it offline

Consider offering the upset consumer a chance to address his/her issues in a different forum such as via phone, email, or a feedback survey. Ensure that this process is expedient otherwise you might be making a tense situation worse.

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at@sociallyahead.

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