How to Respond to Angry Comments on Social Media

At Local Search Masters, we provide social media management services to clients of various sizes in a number of different industries.  Part of the work that goes into these services includes monitoring these social media accounts for positive and negative feedback from friends and followers and responding appropriately.  Recently, I had to deal with a situation involving an unhappy customer who had made his discontent known on one of our client’s Facebook pages.  It provided me with a nice refresher course on how to react in a social media PR crisis.  Here are the basics:

  1. Address the comment as quickly as possible.  In addition to the fact that a quick response makes your company appear more competent and more responsive to your customers, you also don’t want to allow the bad vibes to fester.  The original poster might comment again out of anger over your lack of response.  Additionally, others who have only experienced mild dissatisfaction and have kept quiet until now might be encouraged to pile on and voice their problems publicly, too.
  2. Be sincerely apologetic without making excuses.  Excuses are a way of deflecting blame, and making them will signal to the customer that you’re more concerned with your image than you are with meeting their needs.  Don’t make it all about you.  Also, never imply that the customer is at fault, even if they are.
  3. Reach out to the disgruntled customer. If the person is so upset that they’ve taken to social media to execute their vendetta against your brand, chances are you’ve done something wrong.  It’s quite appropriate for you to offer something in exchange for the problems that you’ve allegedly caused; refunds and free products and services are common remedies.
  4. Ask permission before taking out the trash.  When people talk badly about our brands online, we tend to panic and have a natural impulse to delete the comment.  If the comment is slanderous or clearly put on your Facebook by a fake troll account (a fine line to walk, to be sure), then go ahead and delete it.  However, for legitimate claims of wrongdoing, you should not instantly delete the comment.  Later on, once you’ve addressed the issue with the customer and left him or her adequately compensated, you should ask his or her permission to take it down from your profile.

Remember, these little social media emergencies aren’t the end of the world.  Take the opportunity to show your follower base that maintaining a certain standard of quality in your products and services is important to you, as are the opinions and feelings of your customers.  If handled properly, you can actually turn these snafus into positive PR.  Make amends with and compensate the person (if they have a legitimate complaint) and turn a malcontent into a proud brand advocate by showing that you care.  You’ll increase the lifetime value of your customer by making it more likely that he or she will continue to make purchases with your company, and, if you’ve done a truly exceptional damage control job, you’ll give the customer a great story to tell his or her friends (AKA, new customers).

Looking for more advice? Check out these great posts!

Using Social Media to Generate Franchisee Opportunities

Snapchat in a World of Paid Ads

SEO Moneyball: Twitter Analytics and Social Media Strategy

Social Media Channel Breakdown for the Nashville Business Journal

Is it weird to promote a blog post with another one of your blog posts? I don’t think so.  Here’s the latest post that I’ve submitted to the Nashville Business Journal.  It’s about deciding which social media channels are appropriate for your business, since different networks make more or less sense depending on the nature of your organization.  Read up and enjoy!

A screenshot of James Crater's recent article on social media for businesses.
Proof that you will, in fact, find my article on the other side of that link up there.

James on Google+

Give Customers a Reason to Follow You on Social Media

For larger brands like Apple, Pepsi, and Chipotle, it’s not too difficult to make a splash on social media.  They simply show up to the digital party and collect their millions of fans fairly quickly thanks to their outstanding levels of brand awareness and popularity.  However, if you run a small business, it’s significantly more difficult to build up a dedicated army of social followers that will interact with your posts consistently.  Therefore, for smaller companies and less visible brands particularly, it’s important to give your current and future customers a reason to take the time to find you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

A follow us on Twitter button
I ain’t saying you need to throw grammatical rules out the window. Just give people reasons to listen.

So what counts as a “good reason” to get someone to connect with you on your social networks? That’s the million dollar question, and it really depends on the nature of what your business does and what sorts of things customers in your target market will likely respond to.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Coupons- Giving away coupons and other special offers is a very common practice amongst smaller businesses.  Make sure that the offer is noteworthy enough to really draw interest.  However, you should note that you run the risk of someone liking your company to get the offer and then unliking you afterward, so try to combat this by posting interesting, helpful content on a regular basis.
  • Prizes- Instead of instantly granting a coupon for any like or follow, some companies go for a sweepstakes-style approach, exchanging a like for a chance to be entered into a drawing (or multiple drawings that occur periodically).  Because a sweepstakes is usually accompanied by long odds, you need to make the prize particularly enticing if you want to see significant action from customers.
  • Helpful information- Again, this will vary depending on the industry your firm competes in.  Restaurants should consider keeping customers up to date on things like specials and new menu items.  Entertainment venues can announce upcoming events and update show information.  A shoe store might announce sales on certain brands.  You’re only limited by your offerings and your imagination.
  • Donations to charity-  If your business works with a non-profit, it can actually be fairly effective to offer to contribute a small donation in exchange for each unique like or follow.  In this case, you give the non-profit an incentive to promote your social channels as well.

Like most social initiatives, strategizing to increase follower count should be a fun opportunity to let your creative marketing juices flow.  Try to think outside the box to come up with radical incentives that really catch customers’ eyes.

James on Google+

Use Incentives to Get More Facebook and Twitter Followers

One of the things that often keeps me up at night is how to get more followers on social media accounts.  There are a number of creative ways to do this (which is why my job is so fun at times), but today I’m going to focus on one that I had an experience with recently.

A couple of days ago, I stopped at a bagel place for lunch.  When I got to the register and paid, I was given a little promotional stub along with my receipt.  On the stub was a deal offering three free bagels to anybody that signed up for their membership club or liked their Facebook page. And while I know it’s a little sad that these are the things that excite me, I couldn’t wait to talk about some of the little things that make this a good idea.

A bagel.
A bagel.

There are four things to notice here.

First, it’s important to use offline channels to boost your online channels to customers.  There are places to promote your social accounts other than your website or email blasts.  Promoting your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest at your physical location(s) is just as important and can be just as effective as digital alternatives.

Second, sometimes businesses do promote at physical locations, but the social indicators are not exhibited in a highly visible, prominent spot.  One of the most obvious and most effective places I’ve seen used regularly is the restaurant menu.  Anything near the register is a safe bet, too. The fact that I was handed something made it virtually impossible for me to miss the promo.

Next, offering something in exchange for a like or follow (like bagels!) isn’t such a bad idea either, but make sure what your offering is worth the customers’ while.  You don’t want to insult them.

Last, I like how they give the customer a choice.   That way, even if the patron isn’t into the whole interacting-with-brands-on-social-media-thing,  the bagel place can still potentially get them signed up for their membership program and add value to his or her experience in another way. Either way, the customer is interacting with your business in some fashion, and you’ll stay in his or her mind for longer.

That’s all for now. Happy Friday.



James on Google+

One Facebook Like Strategy to Avoid

In social media, getting likes/followers/buddies is important.  It helps expand reach, increases the probability of interactions from customers, and provides an important social cue to potential customers visiting your social media profiles for the first time.  All of these factors can help improve your business’s bottom line (directly and indirectly) over time.  However, this process can be more difficult than one might think. Thus, I’m always interested when I come across different strategies companies use to increase their following.  Recently, I found one technique that your business should never, ever utilize.

While looking for some good content to read the other day, I came across a website that told me that in order to peruse the article that I had just found via Google, I first had to like the website’s Facebook page.  Not only did I refuse to like the page, but I was so annoyed that a company would try this that I left the site with a terrible impression of the publishers.

Do not do this. Ever. Please.

First of all, this whole “like to access” idea doesn’t even make sense. Why would people like your Facebook page when they don’t even have any experience with the content on it in the first place?  Second, the idea is to make people want more content from you, not trap them into some contract whereby they have to listen to your thoughts regularly.  Instead of strong arming people to follow your brand, provide entertaining, informative content that people will want to share with their friends.  Forced interaction causes hard feelings and drives away potential consumers.

James on Google+

Oreo blows up on Twitter during Super Bowl

For all 3 of you out there that were not watching the Super Bowl last night, the Superdome actually lost power for a little over half an hour. Oreo took advantage of this with a simple but brilliant tweet that went viral immediately, enjoying over 14,500 retweets.

Oreo twitter picture
Fortunately, cookies are not powered by electricity.

What made the post so effective wasn’t that it was particularly clever on its own.  It was the speed with which Oreo and their ad agency, 360i, produced the tweet that was truly amazing.  People operate in real time, so it makes sense that social media should as well. Creative social accounts that react and respond quickly to current events have the ability to delight followers beyond expectations and tend to make a huge splash in the digital community.

Just goes to show that you really don’t have to spend millions to have your voice heard, even during the Super Bowl. Be responsive and innovative with your social media, and you’ll get noticed. It’s fun, effective, and free!

James on Google+