While doing research for this week’s discussion question I came across a couple companies who have had to deal with major faux pas on social media. One occurred on Chrysler’s site when an employee of the social media agency the corporation used posted “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.” The post was immediately removed with an apology made from Chrysler and the employee was fired.
In my work we have had to deal with some negative comments surrounding an event we were hosting. The same event had been held in a town near ours and was pretty much a disaster. The name of the event was the same but the company that put it on was different. Crowd control was an issue, tickets were oversold, and the end result was a lot of unhappy people and a couple of major injuries. There are three of us in our office who work with events and we spent a good deal of time talking about how we should manage these comments. We went back and forth and finally decided that we would deal with the comments individually. If the comment warranted a response we would make it, if it didn’t we would ignore it. Ultimately we continuously promoted the event with positive information and a connection to the company’s website that we were working with.
Negative comments are one of the downsides of having social media sites. So what does this mean for companies? It means that you have to be proactive, you have to continually watch comments and determine how to respond. Do you respond publicly, privately or not at all? You can create policies about how responses will occur but I think there also has to be some gray areas where you deal with comments individually. Here is some great advice for dealing with negative comments:
- “Don’t delay – The more time you let them go unanswered, the more time others have to see that someone has complained and you haven’t responded.
- Be apologetic as appropriate. If someone is complaining about your products, services, or anything else for that matter, say you’re sorry.
- React publicly first, then take it private. If someone is being particularly difficult, take your communication with them to a private channel.
- Share your appreciation for their feedback. Treat complaints as constructive criticism or feedback.
- Ask them how you can help, then help. If the comment you’re dealing is just blatantly offensive and lacks context, tell the commenter you’re sorry and ask them how you can help make the situation better.
- Pick your battles. There are some people out there who make noise just for the sake of making noise.
When using social media be prepared for the negative Nancy’s out there. They exist and eventually will make a comment that you have to address. Be prepared, be positive and do your best to turn that negative Nancy’s frown upside down!