Social Media is a way for you to connect, prospect, and make yourself known to those who may have an interest in what you represent. As I wrote in “If You’re Not First, You’re Last,” obscurity is a bigger problem than money. If people don’t know who you are, then they cannot do business with you. If they know you but aren’t thinking about you, they won’t do business with you. You have to be known , thought about, considered, and hopefully, the first or dominating choice in your clients’ minds in order to ever sell anything to anyone!
But, it only takes a few bad reviews or complaints about you, your company, or your product to result in lost opportunities and a damaged perception of you and your brand. Your customers are online and it is critical to mange your online reputation in order to protect your brand, as it may be the first impression the public gets about you.
Here are some ideas about how you can manage negative social media:
1. Treat your social media reputation like your personal reputation. Handle social media attacks the same way you would a personal attack. Handle such attacks directly yourself; don’t delegate this or take it lightly. Nothing is more important than your name and reputation.
2. Handle ALL negative posts as opportunities. All complaints, bashings, and customer dissatisfactions should be treated as opportunities, not problems (until proven to be something else). A dissatisfied customer or negative post can be turned into a fan or compliment when handled correctly.
3. Handle IMMEDIATELY! The sooner you handle the complaint, the easier it handles. Respond immediately and reasonable people will appreciate you making them a priority. Don’t respond with the intent for them to remove a post or criticism, but rather respond by addressing their concern. Most people, when handled correctly, will then retract the post or post how great you are.
4. Contact directly. Do not respond publicly online to something negative, as you only bring more attention to it. Like any communication, it is best when handled directly either by phone, a direct message, or even in person if possible. Be careful not to suggest wrongdoing in your message, but instead let the party know you want to see what you can do to handle the upset.
5. Be proactive! The best solution to reputation management is to be on offense not defense. Create initiatives to collect positive posts and testimonials, even videos about you and your company. Encourage and make it easy for the people who love and do business with you to spread the good word about you. Aggressively build a positive public relations campaign about your good works, endeavors and contributions that will outweigh any negative post.
6. Know your limitations. While I believe that every complaint is an opportunity, you have to know which battles to fight and which ones to walk away from. There are some people whose real goals are to consume you, your focus and your energy. They don’t seek resolution; they seek to consume you like a vampire. There are some people who are only interested in making noise, creating negativity, and spewing hate. Disregard and don’t engage them once they prove they are only interested in the negative.
The most important thing is you should treat your social media reputation in the same manner you would your personal and public reputation. It is only a matter of time before someone posts negative comments about you, which may include exaggerations of dissatisfaction issues, with some going as far as fabricating complete falsehoods. It is a fact of life that to the degree you get attention, you will at some point get criticism.
Get out of obscurity!