Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other social media platforms make communicating today so much easier. More and more companies are seeing the benefits to having a presence on these channels, allowing their employees to engage on these platforms and to listen, contribute, tweet, post, and update often. However, there is a dark side to social media – the ability for anyone to broadcast angry or negative thoughts about your company – instantaneously and to the masses.
Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed some of the largest and most popular brands across the globe come face-to-face with public scrutiny, dissatisfaction, and active opposition on our cozy, social online networks. Yikes!
It’s natural that our first response to negative commentary is to get prickly. Our first instinct is to go on the defensive, or to hurl an equally negative comment back at the commenter. However, we all know that combating anger with anger doesn’t help. Running away and pulling down our social network pages doesn’t defend against the situation either. Not one bit.
When confronted with online criticism, it doesn’t mean we have to stay mute while critics entertain the online masses with their powerful and irritated words. In fact, leading communicators recognize that the best way to respond to criticisms is to be proactive and to engage in dialogue on these platforms.
A recent Discussions thread on the CEC External Stakeholder Relations Forum looks at how to respond to negativity on social media channels. Here are some helpful suggestions and insights from your peers:
- “When there are negative comments on any of the social media platforms, it’s important to address the comments immediately and/or offer solutions.”
- “Nothing could be worse for your brand/image than to not respond to a negative situation for a protracted period.
- “[Not responding] shows you don’t have concern for your customers, you are not truly engaged in your social media efforts, or the negative accusations may be accurate.”
- “If the post is done in an aggressive tone, for example, I would never answer in the same way, but just the opposite one: a calm, objective and (why not?) friendly reply would be much more efficient and would show who’s the real owner of the situation.”
As your Comms peers mention above, Communicators can no longer deflect or minimize public criticism of the company, especially online. Today, the best Communicators strive to “manage the debate” through proactive engagement activities.
In these proactive engagement efforts, the ultimate goal is two-fold:
- Neutralize the detractors (the negative voices) in a smart way, and
- Develop productive conversations with potential supporters (the quiet, but supportive voices).
Do you have any advice to offer to a fellow Communicator facing online criticism? Share your thoughts today!
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- Managing Reputation in Online Conversations
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