An important part of your social media strategy should involve managing negative chatter on social media. Negative chatter includes social media posts, comments, reviews and forum discussions, where your brand or products are being discussed in a negative way.
Some negative comments and posts about a brand or products are inevitable. However, it is important to stay on top of what's being said about your brand on social media so that it doesn't launch into a full-blown controversy.
Even if it's unlikely that there will be such discussions in relation to your brand online, you need to stay on top of social media content to manage your brand image. Here's why:
Your brand image impacts your site's rankings as EAT (expertise, authority and trust) forms a key part of how websites are rated by Google.
Posts about your brand only also affect your sales, since your audience will conduct research before buying from you. Today, people research businesses before buying from them. As many as 82% of people specifically seek out negative reviews on a brand before making a purchase.
Negative user-generated content about your brand has repercussions. It's essential to step in and manage such responses online in a proactive way.
In this article, I'll discuss how to manage negative chatter online, especially on social media.
Use social media management tools.
Tracking social media content can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process. It's easy to miss the first signs of negative chatter – a critical time where you can determine how to respond and nip any problems in the bud.
You need to use social media listening tools and apply sentiment analysis to sift through posts on Twitter, Facebook, and the like to identify content that's about your brand, your products, or the industry in general.
Sentiment analysis helps by classifying user content into positive, negative and neutral emotions. Using social media tools can make it easier for you to watch for negative chatter online. You're able to respond to customer issues faster.
Monitor and assess the situation.
Sometimes the best step that you can take is to take no step at all. It's important to know the difference between minor online complaints that are typical for any business and serious issues that can impact your business's success.
For example, a situation where a customer compares your product to a competitor's may not warrant a response. However, any user-generated posts talking about unethical practices or social issues must be handled right away and in an appropriate manner.
It is helpful to consider the different sides of a conversation online. What actions has your business taken that lead to such a post? How did it affect your audience or customer? Is the complaint being made online valid?
Breaking down negative chatter with these questions creates clarity and help you decide how to approach social media conversations. At times, the best response is one where you make no response at all.
Don't ignore questions or complaints on your pages.
We just saw that depending on the situation, the best step can be to leave negative chatter alone online. However, this is not a good idea when people post directly on your social media groups, pages or profiles.
Since you "own" your social media pages, it's expected that you're aware of what's happening on it. When your audience members pose a question, complaint or make a statement that could be perceived as negative, it's important to respond.
Avoid leaving gaps in communication because your audience will fill it in themselves. Commit to responding to comments and posts made on your pages. Also, pay attention to hashtags where a user clearly tagged your brand.
You'll save time and energy and also handle negative feedback faster if you prepare for it by making scripts.
Start by brainstorming the potentially negative events that can take place online that affect your business. for example, how do you plan to deal with a customer who is unhappy with your customer support and other scenarios?
Create scripts for your support team to use to reply to your audience. The idea is not to copy and paste the same content for everyone, but to have an ideal response in place. Your support team can then refer to these scripts to create a response that matches the tone you want to set for your communication.
Be apologetic, and respond in a personalized way.
It's said that when something goes on the internet, it's essentially there forever. Always keep this in mind when you respond to your audience online
Train your social media team or customer support team to create responses that are apologetic when it's clear that there's a mistake on your part. This is even if your audience is making unfair assumptions or comments that criticize your brand. Start with an apology, and try to help or offer a solution.
Also, personalizing your communication adds authenticity. Use your scripts, but avoid repeating the exact same content. When you make your responses human and personalized, your audience may recognize that you've put in the effort to communicate with them and are authentic.
Make a statement on social media.
If you're facing a PR crisis on social media, then the best step that you can take is to address it by making a statement on social media. Even presidents of countries and CEOs of global brands use social network platforms to share news and make statements.
Addressing a critical issue that impacts your brand through social media gives the impression that the message is coming directly from the brand to the audience. There's a degree of connectivity that doesn't exist in a formally issued PR statement.
Craft a heartfelt and thoughtful message for social media, and post it from your pages or profiles. This should be done in cases where there are major changes taking place in your business or if your company is involved in that can have a serious impact on your reputation.
A statement on social media can go a long way with your audience and help bridge any gaps in communication.
Negative chatter on social media around any company is inevitable. It's important to learn when to address online posts around your brand and when to let it go – something that takes experience and careful information-gathering around the problem.
In his article, I've covered several ways to deal with negative comments on social media. At the core of these tips is the need to be proactive.
Use social media management tools to help you track what people are saying about your brand online. Create scripts and use them to guide but not replace actual conversations with your audience. And make a statement on social media to voice your concern and the solutions you have to offer in the case of any major brand issues.
When you're prepared and willing to build a long-term positive relationship with your audience, you can effectively deal with feedback from people online.