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Social Media Backlash | Social Media Advice for Brands

How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media

There is no denying the recent change in how consumers communicate with a brand, and this is primarily due to social media. Customers can now visibly connect with their favourite (or even least favourite ) brand through social media, by leaving comments, questions and complaints on a facebook page, or by tweeting or even blogging about their products and services.

Call centres, though still present, are not the only route to take to ask questions or raise a complaint with a brand – and any business with sense will have an attentive eye on their online presence and the people interacting with it.

There have been a number of rather public cases in the media, involving brands and a social media backlash, which will have caused a very negative impact on their reputation. A good example comes from VW’s facebook page which, up until the end of last year, was doing fairly well in the social media stakes- engaging with it’s followers and providing friendly, helpful support.

That was until it asked this question:

Since that post was written in early January, over 1,000 comments appeared, requesting VW stop recent lobbying against environmental laws. Thousands of Volkswagen fans waited for a response from the brand. And waited. And waited. Despite VW responding quickly and cheerfully to many of the other posts written on their Facebook page, their tactic seemed to be to ignore anything regarding Greenpeace protests. A few weeks later, and with over 1,000 posts questioning their environmental motives, VW are still publically ignoring their customers, showing the world their solution to customer dissatisfaction – the silent treatment.

In much the same way, the ethical brand Fashion Conscience chose to ignore complaints via Twitter for almost a week, by which time the message had circled the social site, that they were disregarding customer complaints and refusing refunds. This case was made especially prominent by the fact that it was social media marketer Cat Turner who was ignored by Fashion Conscience who fully understood the detrimental effect social media can have. A hashtag was created, to further promote the cause.

How to Respond to Negative Feedback:

  • Acknowledge the complaint swiftly, and thank the customer for their feedback.
  • Offer an email address or phone number to direct their complaint.
  • Be friendly and apologetic
  • Don’t rise to the bait – a calm and helpful response will reflect well on you, and in most cases calm the customer.

Brand’s must learn from others’ mistakes. It is not enough to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, it’s something that must be maintained. The challenging part of social media marketing, is that it’s very transparent, and very public, and when a brand fails a customer it’s recorded in writing for all to see. Social media teams must have tried and tested strategies in place, to tackle anything the customer may throw at them, and to offer excellent customer support in return.

About the Author:

I have worked in online / digital for 20 years! Yes, it is possible. Started in the early days before freeserve was a scribble on a napkin, developing and marketing online self help products for the likes of BT, Cable& Wireless. MCI WorldCom et al. Set up the first online retailer channel for Demon Internet (Now part of C&W) before moving Agency side. As MD of grow* i focus on strategy and head up the client management team as well as keeping my toe in the water.

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