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Handling the bad and the ugly of social media

One of the greatest benefits businesses can reap from effective social media marketing is the ability to promote their brands as reputable, reliable industry leaders that provide the highest quality goods or services. While leveraging social platforms allows businesses to form relationships with existing clients and boost brand awareness among potential leads, an organization's marketing strategy for sites like Twitter, Facebook and online review outlets should take into account how negative information can spread easily in the social digital sphere.

One negative review can spur an epidemic
As customer service plays an increasingly greater role in many companies' B2B marketing initiatives, client communication via social sites extends beyond disseminating content. While posting a variety of channel-appropriate media is important, marketing on social media also involves responding to the questions and comments users post about the brand.

An infographic recently created by social media monitoring services provider Trackur shed light on the effects a negative review, post or tweet can have on a business's reputation by listing the number of users for each social site. According to the infographic:

  • Twitter has more than 400 million users, and the average profile owner has 208 followers.
  • Facebook has more than 1.15 billion users, 4.5 billion likes occur on the site every day and more than three-quarters of users log in at least once a day.
  • Google Plus has more than 500 million users and the +1 button is clicked 5 billion times a day.

These figures suggest just one critical post has the potential to reach an incredible number of people.

Handling detrimental reviews
With more people using social sites to access information about brands from past customers, a business that doesn't approach negative reviews strategically is likely to see its reputation decay. That's why it's crucial to establish a plan of action for handling less-than-positive social media communication.

  1. Pick battles wisely: Not all reviews are worth responding to. Those that simply bash a brand without providing clear criticism often don't persuade readers, which means the business shouldn't waste its resources responding to them.
  2. Demonstrate sympathy: Posts and reviews that speak poorly of a brand's customer service or offerings should be approached cautiously. It's important to respond quickly and apologize early on in the reply. 
  3. Keep the tone in mind: A company's response reflects its brand image. It's important to be polite and professional, as well as avoid emotional or defensive language. 
  4. Provide a solution: After apologizing, the business's responses should explain how it will go about fixing the issue concisely and in a way that doesn't require much effort from the customer.

Laying the foundation for a positive reputation
One of the best ways companies can ensure negative online reviews don't affect their brand image is by promoting a positive reputation across channels. Business 2 Community recently explained banking, financial services and insurance companies are increasingly using social media for customer support. Doing so can ultimately improve a brand's image.

The source explained most of these companies answer customers' questions and provide solutions to their problems the day such queries are posted.

Accumulating positive reviews and interactions on social media and other platforms is another effective branding strategy. Reaching out to brand advocates – like loyal, long-standing clients – for their opinion is one way to increase the amount of positive information about the business on the Web. This can be done via email. For example, after signing up for a new product or service online, customers can be asked to rate and review their experience and share their recent purchase with social media contacts.

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.