By: Lindsey Talerico-Hedren, Russ Reid’s Social and Content Strategist
How to handle negative feedback in social media
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if 100% of the social media attention your organization attracted was positive –providing resounding recommendations for your brand? Wouldn’t it be great if your online user experience was so friendly that your supporters never had a bad thing to tweet? And how relaxing would it be if the issues and causes your organization represents never caused a stir or debate that ended up on your Facebook page?
The reality is that we as organizations aren’t perfect, and neither are our supporters. That means we deal with and manage risk, which is something we know all too well in social media. A less-than-satisfactory experience with your brand doesn’t just get phoned in to your supporter services team anymore. It can be posted to your Facebook page, tweeted to hundreds of other people, or blogged about for the world to read.
So, how should we conduct ourselves if and when negative feedback arises? We suggest you follow a social media code of conduct.
One of the foundational characteristics of social media is that it levels the communication field between user and brand, meaning both parties are equals. That’s why respect is at the core of all social media communication–if you respect your supporters you’ll talk to them like people and not just a cash flow. If you respect your online communities you’ll provide them with valuable content. And if you respect their opinions you’ll make it known and thank them accordingly. Any type of feedback, either positive or negative, starts with a mindset of respect. You respect them.
But it also means, where possible, users should respect you and one another. Within online communities you “own” (your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your website), create a set of community guidelines: a code of conduct for your community. People voluntarily join your communities online and, strategically, you want these communities to be welcoming hubs of meaningful engagement. Out of respect for the rest of your community, that’s not possible if a user is constantly spamming your page with third-party advertisements, or if someone is overusing profanity or harassing others. Your clearly stated and publicly posted community guidelines can explain to users the types of engagement you will unapologetically not allow.
An unhappy supporter of your organization has just posted their complaint to your Facebook page. What do you do? Consider this carefully, because how you reply to criticism or negative remarks in social media will say more about your brand in a single tweet or comment than a year’s worth of your Facebook page updates. Here are a few questions to think through in determining your response:
- Does the comment/feedback demand a response? Was it posed as a question or a statement? The first step of responding is determining what kind of response the feedback calls for. It may mean you require the help of your supporter services team, PR team, or executive-level agreement before you can respond. It may also mean you shouldn’t respond at all.
- Does the criticism address something you can fix or answer? If yes, fix it and respond. If no, consider what reasoning you’ll provide the commenter in your response. This may mean a simple acknowledgement (“thank you for your feedback”), or it may mean providing the important information about why a “fix” is not possible (“We are a child-focused organization, as such, rescuing abused animals is not within our programmatic work”).
- Is there an opportunity to create value out of this negative feedback? The code here is: Create value, don’t feed the fire.
3. Create value
The saying goes, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” At Russ Reid, we say, “If social media gives you negativity, create value by making it into an opportunity.” People post negative comments in social media for a number of reasons: They want acknowledgement, or a response, or maybe they’ve been misinformed or upset by your organization in some way.
This is an opportunity for you in social media to create value. Someone disagrees with your latest newsletter headline? Acknowledge their feedback; every bit is valuable. An upset supporter wants to know why your organization chooses one programmatic approach over another? Someone wants to know why your services are limited to a certain service area? There is an opportunity in these critiques to educate the user, turning them into an advocate through a meaningful experience with your brand. It also means educating users in the periphery who are watching your engagement take place.
For more on social media risk mitigation, creating community guidelines, creating value from criticism, or other Russ Reid social media services, contact us.