How to Handle Negativity on Social Media
Valorie Reavis, social media marketing specialist and founder of LinkUp Marketing
A flood of negativity in the US and an online ‘hijacking’ in the UK recently shunted two well-known brands to the top of the search lists in a most embarrassing display of how not to manage social media recently.
US fast food-chain Applebee’s was at the centre of a social media brouhaha for firing a waitress after she posted an image on a social network of a snarky comment written on a bill by a customer. Initial responses by Applebee’s social media team to the raft of angry posts by the public ranged from misinformation to its blandly copied and pasted corporate policy before the company began hiding messages and blocking users. Talk about turning your back on your customers.
Meanwhile, in the UK, troubled music and DVD high street retailer, HMV, lost control of the company’s Twitter account just as it starting paying staff off. Not very clever. Seven tweets were posted by a rogue HMV staffer who had control of the company’s social media, including: ‘Just heard our marketing director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?”’ It was enough to ensure the story got picked up by the national press and, of course, every social media network around.
These bitter fiascos certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of some social customers, but for salon owners and managers they are a stark warning that silently cringing and hoping to never face the same debacle isn’t a good policy. Especially considering 62% of consumers use social media to comment on customer service issues. No one can stop negative or nasty posts, but how you respond is what makes the difference between social suicide and a turn-around situation. Here are some take-aways for you and your management team.
Seems so simple, but despite Twitter and Facebook exploding into our nice little world, many salon owners are still reluctant to embrace social media themselves. Instead, they delegate it, often to someone young and junior who ‘gets’ Twitter or Facebook. This is where the madness lies. Recognize the power of social media, lock down control of your brand’s communication channels and give only your most trusted associates access. The easiest way to do this is to utilize a management program, which allows for additional users that can be removed upon employee departure. This way, you never give access to the main accounts.
Keep your eyes open
Keeping strict control over your salon’s account will not limit bad press on personal accounts, and these can create bad vibes just as easily. So use a social media management service like The Shout Lounge that will alert you the moment your brand is mentioned online so you can respond immediately.
Have a plan
Dealing with negative comments or issues via social media is a matter of when, not if. When that time does come, it can be hard to think logically or professionally in the heat of the moment. So come up with a response strategy now. Start by figuring out who will be responsible for reacting in such situations. What steps need to be taken to find out what happened and come up with a solution? Do they need to get approval before doing so? What responses would be in line with your salon’s image and values?
Your natural response is to be defensive. Understandable – you have an awesome salon and everyone should know it. But in the case of an unhappy clien,t it’s best to hear out the individual. By deleting a negative comment, you could create an even bigger issue, not make it go away, and responding to complaints or reviews in a way that invalidates the complainant’s opinion makes you look childish. Acknowledge and thank (yes, thank) the poster for the feedback. Take a similar stance when it is a disgruntled employee, but perhaps miss out the bit about being grateful for the feedback.
Going back and forth with someone being negative in a place where everyone can see is like airing your dirty laundry in public. Acknowledge the comment publicly and suggest you continue the discussion privately. If you’re unable to contact the person directly, ask him or her to contact you. For issues not involving a specific individual, state your position and then lay low. Posting over and over again, especially if there is no new information, only lessens your credibility. Finally, be sure to keep private matters like internal policy and employee issues private. Posting this looks like you’re trying to deflect blame.
Valorie Reavis is part of Linkup Marketing, an online and social media marketing specialist focusing on search engine marketing, salon email marketing programs and social media marketing for salons and spas. If you have any queries for the Linkup team check out the website www.linkupmarketing.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, find them on facebook.com/linkupmarketing or follow them on Twitter @linkupmarketing.