Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

It’s a fact of life. Everyone will not agree on the same thing. Sadly enough, that goes for your brand as well. There will be people who love it and there will be some who either don’t care or feel the need to tell the world about how much they dislike it. It’s the latter that you need to be worried about. The people who post negative comments onto your Facebook page for millions of other users to see. One bad comment can start a chain reaction that could take your brand weeks, months or even years to overcome.

We’ve all seen it on other pages but what if it was on our brand’s page? Would you know what to do? From the numerous amounts of case studies on companies who have completely blundered up this situation, I’m going to guess the majority of us would say no.

Recently, I stumbled across an article on PRDaily.com outlining a few dos and don’ts of handling negative feedback on Facebook, even though these tips could include any social media site. Due to the incredible amount of SNAFUs on social media in spots like this, I felt the need to share this knowledge.

First of all, you should “respond no matter what.” Everyone’s opinion matters, even the opinions you don’t agree with.  Even if a consumer of your product didn’t like it, they were still a consumer once. No one wants another “Dell Hellon his or her hands. Even though this story is form 2005, it still proves just how important it is to answer no matter what!

Also remember to keep your reply simple. “According to Gini Deitrich from Spin Sucks, ‘There are four words that work really well online. They are, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you.’” It is ok to fess up that you’re a human to your online community and that once a while, a mistake might be made. Imagine how much better you feel after a fight with a friend when one apologizes and the fight is over. This is the same concept.

The third tip was to contact all individuals privately after they have made a comment bashing your brand or product. After a negative experience, they want to feel special and know that someone who is genuinely interested is hearing them. If you’re not, you should be.

The fourth tip is to not delete any content unless policies are in place regarding what can be deleted. A few instances where it is appropriate to delete is when the content of the comment is racist, sexist, includes verbal abuse, uses inappropriate language, includes pornographic content or has explicit antagonistic behavior towards other members of the community.

 The final tip is to deflect the comment towards a more positive direction. “Laurel Papworth recommends you try to move away from the negative conversation and toward a more positive one. She says, ‘Thank the commenter, ask for more information and then bury them in talking. If there is more than one negative reviewer, try the ‘Thank you, oh look, something shiny!’ approach.’”

Do you think these tips are enough? What else could you do to avoid a social media distaster?

#TwitterCampaignFail

Some people dislike McDonalds for it’s food. I personally dislike it for its Twitter campaigns. The company not only has one, not two but three failed attempts under its belt! Really guys? You didn’t learn the first two times?

For those of you who are not familiar with McDonalds’ Twitter hashtag promotions, let me break them down for you. The first hashtag created by McDonalds was #McDStories. To make a long story short, this opened up the floodgates for negative criticisms all over Twitter. One user wrote “My memories of walking into a McDonald’s: the sensory experience of inhaling deeply from a freshly-opened can of dog food. #McDStories.” Ouch.

The second failed attempt at a Twitter campaign came with the birth of #littlethings. McDonalds got the ball rolling on this hashtag with a tweet that said “No line at the bank, a large tax refund, & those extra fries at the bottom of the bag. What are some #LittleThings that bring you joy?” An article written by Todd Wasserman on Mashable.com said that, “Despite the open-ended nature of the campaign, so far few users have used the hashtag as a forum for bashing the brand or taking the conversation in off-color directions.” These off-color directions included “a good cup of coffee in the morning” and “a child’s laugh.” While we can all agree that these comments aren’t nearly as bad as the ones that were posted with #McDstories, they are certainly not the direction the brand wanted to go.

The third and most recent failed attempt included the hashtag #shamrocking. Meant to introduce a classic shake in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the hashtag encouraged Twitter users to take a picture of themselves holding the shake and doing their version of an Irish jig.

Seems innocent enough right? Wrong!

McDonalds overlooked the fact that the word already has a connotative meaning, which is…. unsavory at best. Let’s just say it’s for adult eyes only. For a reference, please see urbandictionary.com.

If this has taught us anything, it’s that we should be prepared for the internet-users of the world to potentially change one thing into something completely different!

It has also taught us to make sure we know the connotative and denotative definitions of the hashtag words we’re using! A simple Google search is all that it would have taken to avoid this debacle. A few extra seconds of your day will save you, and your brand, a lot of embarrassment.

For a massive company with I’m sure quite a few people working on this, it seems at though McDonalds was careless with its hashtags. A Twitter campaign is not something that should be taken lightly. It will take time and quite a lot of research. Do not just throw up a hashtag and pray that it will work out exactly the way you want it to because odds are it won’t.

#GoodLuck

Aside

Something horrible happened to me a few weeks ago. It changed everything I knew. I felt dazed and confused, altogether pretty lost. My Facebook page changed to Facebook timeline!

Long story short: I was not a fan.

I wanted my old page back. You know, the one where I didn’t see my posts from when I was 17 going on about how being grounded wasn’t fair because I was an “adult.” Posts like that make me cringe.

Now, as I said, I was horrified when Facebook just did this to me. I immediately ran to my roommate and asked if hers had changed. To my dismay hers had not. I felt like Facebook was out to get me and only me! After asking her, I proceeded to ask just about everyone else I knew. I found that most of them changed their Facebook to the timeline voluntarily. Now, if something is going to change, there better be a point to it. So what is the point of Facebook timeline?

According to Facebook itself, the timeline is meant to share “your story from beginning, to middle, to now.” I can see where they’re coming from. I mean if a lot of people changed their page voluntarily, so there must be something to it. So if this timeline is meant to share “your story,” on a personal level, does it transfer to a business level as well?

An article on Forbes.com says that it certainty does! Every company, every brand and every organization has a history and story all their own. Facebook timeline has given these organizations what, marketing has at times, failed to do.

In an article titled “Facebook Timeline for Pages: Which Brands Will Win and Lose?” Ian Schafer, founder and CEO of Deep Focus, says that Facebook timeline is “an opportunity for brands to tell more engaging stories on Facebook than they can now.”

The way I see it, some brands are going to take this and run with it. Others are going to drown. It is sad but true that some companies just don’t tell their story well and somehow they have been able to overcome that. Facebook timeline isn’t going to let that slide anymore. If a brand wants to be successful on the biggest social media platform (and which one doesn’t) you’re just going to have to keep me, and the other millions of people on Facebook, interested and willing to listen to YOUR story.

Make it a good one.

Successful marketing on Facebook

This week in my social media class, Sarah Van Elzen, the senior digital communications strategist at Laughlin Constable, spoke about the challenges and possibilities with Facebook marketing. Specifically she discussed how Medela’s Facebook page is being used.

Sarah informed us that Medela’s Facebook page is more successful than about 10 of its competitors. Some of this is due to some statistics that she has found. For instance, there are over 23 million United State’s moms on Facebook. To put that into perspective, that is about 2/3 of all moms in the U.S. Also, three posts a day on Medela’s Facebook page is the magic number for its audience.

Sarah also makes it a point to increase conversation by posting one question per day for the audience to help answer. By interacting with their audience and not simply “broadcasting” about the company, Medela is giving moms a reason to stay interested in the brand.

Few things are worse than liking a brand on Facebook only to see that they either never post or post every other minute with useless information. I cannot begin to count how many business or products I have “liked” only to be completely fed up with them later. The sad part about it is I still like the product. I just can’t stand its social media! My home page does not need to be filled with yet another post of what the Wednesday special is especially when it is the same every week.

An article titled “5 Facebook Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make” on Mashable.com offers a few tips that we can all learn from. The first, which Medela has managed not to do, is to broadcast. By broadcasting information you are not offering any sort of relevant content to keep them intrigued or excited about the topic, product or business at hand.

The second mistake is to not devote adequate amount of time to Facebook marketing. You cannot have a “build it and they will come” mentality when it comes to your Facebook page. Building an audience takes time and the page needs to be monitored very closely and regularly to maintain that audience.

The third mistake listed in the article is being boring or predictable with your social media. Switch up your posts! I don’t need to see something I already know or something that I read on your wall only a week ago. Create some variety. Joseph Manna, community manager at Infusionsoft also warns not to automate posts. He says, “It’s nice to ‘set and forget,’ but the risk is two-fold: publishing systems sometimes have issues, and Facebook places low-priority on auto-published content.”

The fourth piece of advice is failing to learn about Facebook’s tools and mechanisms. Now, I would generally think that this was pretty self-explanatory. A kind of “know what your getting into” kind of a thing but apparently not. The “info” tab isn’t used very often and many businesses do not take the time to create a custom “welcome page.” For monitoring, Facebook’s built-in analytics program “Facebook Insights”, is often overlooked.

Finally, the last helpful hint is to understand Facebook’s terms of use. Make sure you know the rules of running contests and tagging pictures. The article continues with “To avoid these common mistakes, invest time in learning about the Facebook platform, educate yourself on how to build and sustain an audience, and don’t forget to engage with people like you do in real life.”

By following Medela’s example and keeping these top five mistakes in mind, our own marketing plans on Facebook are sure to be a success.

Pinterest: The Next Big Thing

In a world wide web of new social media sites, how do you know what one is the next “big thing”? According to Augie Ray, the “mom test” seems to do the trick. The “mom test” consists of asking, “Would my mother use this?” In the case of Pinterest, the answer is undoubtedly yes.

For those of you who have not yet experienced the world of Pinterest, it is a virtual bulletin board where the user can “pin” appealing images or interesting links. Categories on the website include “pets,” “travel,” “fitness,” “weddings,” and pretty much anything else you could want. After the user sees a picture, quote, recipe, hairstyle, etc., they can place that image onto one of their personalized boards. When the image is pinned, it can then be repinned by other users. I have a board for animals, food recipes and even a little used fitness board for all of those exercises I just can’t wait to try. Right.

Once you try Pinterest for yourself, it is easy to see why experts are saying the site is taking the social media game by storm. According to an article on Mashable.com, in January 2012, Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic when only six months earlier it accounted for only 0.17%. Just to put that into perspective, in January 2012, the social media giant, Twitter, accounted for 3.61% of referral traffic.

To add to those already impressive statistics, another article on Mashable.com wrote that Pinterest’s unique visitors increased 429% from September 2011, to December 2011.

Even Tim Cigelske, senior communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Education at Marquette University, sees the power of Pinterest over his particular demographic and now my beloved school now has a Pinterest account of its own.

Personally, even though there may not ever be a social media site that can rival FaceBook’s popularity or size, Pinterest has become my new favorite time waster. It is constantly being updated with different photos and links to keep me interested. If I’m not careful, I could spend up to an hour or two on it. Which, according to Tim isn’t that unusual since the average time a user spends on it is 88 minutes.

But what does Pinterest mean for brands? I think that it has enormous potential, at least for some markets. I think that hotels and resorts, if organized appropriately, can definitely get their name out there in the “travel” category. I know I’ve repinned hotels in Europe and the Caribbean that I think look luxurious and interesting. Car companies could also make the most of these boards. Place a picture of a nice SUV, link it back to the dealer’s website and website traffic is increased by a potential buyer. Retail outlets such as ModCloth.com and Nordstrom have a following of a few thousand.

My vote is that Pinterest is going to be around and popular for a long time, so make the most of your brand and just keep pinning!