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Handling Negative Conversations in Social Media

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(This blog is adaptation from Digital Vidya’s  Facebook fan page question “ How to handle negative conversations about your brand?” You should also join this vibrant community of digital marketers if you haven’t already done so)

POLL : How do you handle negative conversations about your brand? Especially the ones that are unjustified and some people start them because of their vested interest. What’s your preferred method to tackle such situations?

a) Remain silent and ignore them, after all, the conversation will die if you don’t jump in,

b) Get aggressive and challenge the people,

c) Observe for a while and jump in only when things start gaining a momentum,

d) any other method that you believe will work

Do share your experiences if you had any!

Advit Sahdev None of a) b) or c) – You have to ask for data points in public (not private) – Discuss in front of everyone so that the entire forum can see who is right and who is wrong. Also, if it is your mistake, accept it.

Visakh VA Even my approach wont be of the first 3. If your product sucks, you should ask “what is the problem customers are facing” and try to understand the issue. Then try and answer in a way by which you can solve his issues, also keeping in mind if others are listening to it, they should also feel comfortable and convinced by my reply so that they might eventually turn out to be a buyer of the same product.So the key here is how creative and convincing your reply can be.

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place @Advit : Agreed! Acceptance is the key to success as far as social media marketing is concerned. It not only creates a trust factor between the consumer and the brand, but also helps the brand gain a lot! Also, conversing with the consumer in public is also a great idea as it shows transparency of the brand. @Visakh : Intelligent content absolutely does the trick! Not only do you have to convince your consumer, but also be consistent in your approach in doing the same. Good point! 🙂

Harmanjit Singh We are specific about unjustified criticism. So, of course first thing is to ignore it. Next is let some of your loyal users/fans to confront that criticism. There is nothing better than that. Last is to delete/mark it spam & ban the users.

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place ‎@Harmanjit : Identifying loyal fans and asking them to take over might just be the right thing to do 🙂 Good thinking!

Ramanan Subramani Depends (very ambigous a response but applies here in with some logic :))
a) Remain silent and ignore them, after all, the conversation will die if you don’t jump in,
We chose to remain silent on the brickbat we received through parleG hollering 1411 remains so dont eat tiger eat parleg. It was a facebook fanpage promotion. Strat: Any amount justification in an obstinate group is only going to increase obstinance!

b) Get aggressive and challenge the people,
Again this one would increase obstinance and hence a rational approach to handle things can help. But depends on how much time it requires and whether its worth it. If the person belong to your group talk to them in private and if they dont listen knock them off. Like any political stunt it will create a furore for sometime and just like many others of the past “This too shall pass!” – Geethasaar

c) Observe for a while and jump in only when things start gaining a momentum,
This can work fantabulous. But the call to jumpin requires utmost prudence and the call is not about WHEN to jump it should be about WHETHER to jump in at all!

d) any other method that you believe will work.
Complete blind eye wont help, the best you could do is shoo them away with high levels of positivity and ask your loyal base or customers what you should be doing! Your community gets tighter and nice that way

Srijit ‘grasscorcher’ Chatterjee if their charges are completely baseless challenge them with relevant facts and figures, also bring the brand loyals to the discussion n let them share their experiences, for every negative comment you’ll have far more good experiences shared, the mercenaries will be at a loss n will lose their credibility and you’ll be the last man standing, no one will dare to challenge u in the future…. u have successfully suppressed a negative W.O.M.

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place ‎@Srijit : Great point! Why worry if our brand isn’t bad? Bombard the consumer with the facts till he has nothing left to say! We say, modesty on social media works only till a certain (read tolerable) level 🙂

Camille Van Neer To ignore ANY feedback whether pos or neg (seen from your perspective only) will leave the conclusions to the ones that DO care and step into the fray. So if you want the public to decide without you in it, let them go ahead. If not, participate as an equal partner, listening in for 90%, asking additional questions for the other 10%

Rahul K Soni not yet, but some time this happens when are not able to deliver what they wanted. So according to me it is always best to listen silently and improve. Because there will be negative conversation only when your competitor is giving more than you. So this will help you to know develop strategies or game plan to beat competition.

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place @Camille: If your brand loyalists go ahead with tackling the problem, you’re one lucky brand! 🙂 I like it the way you’ve divided listening:crowdsourcing as 90:10.
@Rahul : Great! This leads to another question. Won’t keeping silent only aggravate the anger of your customer, giving him the impression that his woe is unanswered!?

Rahul K Soni yes its true, but i didn’t understand this paragraph can you please elaborate” I like it the way you’ve divided listening:crowdsourcing as 90:10.”

Camille Van Neer ‎@Rahul: What I meant is that the act of listening – an art in itself and already difficult enough to practice in real life – becomes even more important when people virtually meet to exchange opinions. If that is what feedback is all about. With 90:10 I meant to indicate that we have to practice reluctance to intervene too fast and let the crowd play along criticizing (for good or for bad) in order for a few truths (about your brand) to emerge .. and then compliment the crowd!

Ramanan Subramani Am surprised that people ignore contexts. Everything depends on what space you are in. There is no panacea (visakh dont get at me this is a known word) for social media negative publicity stunts!

Anandan Pillai I agree with Ramanan’s last comment wherein he gives importance to the “context”. I think this is the key aspect in damage control situation. It would be advisable first to assess the extent of damage the negative conversation can bring, the available resources (preparedness of the organization) to tackle the situation (if its brand’s fault), alternative pacifying alternatives available which might keep the customer cool down for sometime.
One additional strategy might be to offer some offers on next purchase (recently Skype offered free calls to registered users for their breakdown of about 24 hours) might resemble the commitment the brand has for its customers.

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place @Ramanan : As usual, a good point 🙂 Guess you’re right! Though there are some measures that can be taken to decrease the intensity of negativity on your platform, there’s no way you can make sure it doesn’t happen.
@Anandan : Skype is a good example of how brands rebuild trust in the customer. Thanks for sharing this with us. There have been a lot of cases in case of brands wherein the brand directly apologizes to the customer through means of various social media platforms. Here are some examples http://www.simplyzesty.com/social-media/social-media-trend-apology-youtube-video/

Digital Vidya – Digital Marketing Learning Place A nice example of how Dell deals with negative comments, shared by Gautam Ghosh on our LinkedIn community http://www.slideshare.net/Dell_Inc/dell-outreach-in-the-blogosphere. Have a look!

So Stay Online and listen to your customers is the key to empower your brand.


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