The billboard has fallen over. There’s static on the radio. Television is too exclusive. The advertising landscape has changed forever: social media dominates. Cost-effective, social media can act as a forum for small businesses to attract, educate, and form real connections with consumers.
Facebook isn’t a perfect system. The democratic forums empower consumers in new ways, publicizing one-on-one interactions between producer and consumer. This can work to your advantage – even when the comments posted are sometimes malicious. The simplicity of online forums is their strongest asset, but it also generates potential liability: online ‘trolls’ post spiteful, malicious content on forums in order to derail the conversation. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to turn a troll’s comment into a positive perception of your business in the wider market!
The simple truth is that only some comments are worth a response. If you can’t see a way to spin their comment into something that will benefit your image (and there’s a lot to be said for this) – just leave them be.
Don’t feed the trolls
We’ve talked about a dialogue here at SuchCrowd before. A dialogue often prompts consumers to perceive your brand as a company which backs up its claims, does its best to solve issues, and provides a high level of service to individuals. In the case of online trolls, the dialogue provided by social media forums often results in another customer defending the business –by hosting a dialogue, branding and marketing issues can start to fall by the wayside.
When customers step in, your brand is defended at zero cost – and the comments are highly unlikely to have any sort of lasting effect on your image. If things do get a little out of hand, be a mediating force: get the last word, block the troll from further posts, and offer a small reward for customer loyalty.
Online conversations are fast replacing face-to-face interactions: building goodwill between the customer and the provider of a service can often quell dissent in the marketplace.
Automated responses don’t belong on Facebook
Social media platforms are designed for human interaction and this is exactly what you need to provide. Be an active figure, not a passive one: even the best automatic responses can come across as ambivalent, or unconcerned.
An empathetic reply nearly guarantees a positive response from complaints.
At best, automated responses function only to delay any positive outcomes. Beginning with a well-planned response gives you a chance to show the personable side of your company and your organization’s commitment to improvement.
Never stoop to their level
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget how easily online exchanges can be broadcast to wider networks. While deleting unprofessional comments is always an option, it only takes three keys being pressed for a screenshot of your comment to be taken. Comments being taken out of context is one of the dangers of the social media business format. Users can repost and blog about them, perpetuating a negative image of your company online.
Keep your cool, and remember to optimize the brand.
It all comes down to identity: malicious commenters usually nothing to lose in the interaction. Hidden behind virtual masks, they have no reputation at stake – no brand images, no corporate goodwill to protect.
Take a deep breath and react when you’re ready: a positive or humorous response is always better than retaliation. Having strict posting policies for company social media interaction helps ensure that your brand doesn’t wind up knee-deep in a public relations issue that could have a long-term impact on your profits.
Be direct: address the issue
It’s a simple fact that most of the negative feedback posted online is genuine: the customer really does believe that there is a fault in the service. Before dismissing the comment – or worse, responding in kind – make some enquiries. Have their experiences fallen short of what your brand ought to provide?
The first response should always be about providing resolution, regardless of whether or not you agree with their main points. While customer retention might be less of a concern in cases of malicious commenters, you can use the social media platform to engage your other followers, give quality service, and receive feedback or esteem from the clients that matter most.
Laughter is the best medicine
Humor is, and always has been, the shortest path to social media success. The internet loves a good laugh. While malicious commenters might be trying to laugh at your expense, try turning the frame around so that everyone is laughing with you, rather than at you.
A clever and well-timed response can even wind up garnering an incredible amount of new attention for your business. Countless companies have had their hilarious responses to trolls re-posted and shared by their fun-loving followers.
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Edited by: Jeremy Spruyt