How do I deal with bad comments and tweets online?

Good or Bad – You may still need to Respond

The answer is really you have to make some decisions about what to do and how you will handle this negativity if it comes up. And keep in mind, it does not always come up for everyone. But it is important to make this part of your social media strategy and plan for what can happen.

A Few Examples to Learn from

A few years ago a local Cable/Internet company had done something that made it impossible for many clients to access a whole bunch of websites.  There was an uproar online immediately because people were complaining. When everyone noticed all the complaints we realized that it was not our own systems but the internet system and it stemmed from the cable company. The trouble was they were very new to Twitter and had no idea what to do – or no plan in place. The response everyone got was no response. This made it worse, and more complaining happened.

This past week while at a School Board event, an event intended for the Superintendent to find out feedback from parents and students. One of the questions asked by the superintendent of those attending was in reference to how they communicate and amongst the lost of questions was this one:

 ”Do you follow us on Twitter?” and “How can we communicate better?”

Ironic questions to ask considering that the next day there was a bad snowstorm and the School Board made a call to leave schools open. The backlash online was harsh and with opinions from both sides.  Admittedly, this decision is the hardest one the Superintendent ever makes – she even made note of this at the meeting and referencing the coming storm and how making those calls is hard.

What mistake did both of these organizations make?

Having an online presence was not a mistake. The error came when the proverbial shit hit the fan and the online backlash started. Both companies had the means to respond but did nothing.  Nothing can sometimes be the answer, but with social media making everything very transparent, in cases like these, my advice is to respond in some way. Even if it is a firm backup of your decision or a response that there was an issue and you are working on it.

There will be times you need to ask people to take the conversation offline (privacy issues for certain things), sometimes ignorance is required (ie foul language and spam types of comments) – but you always have to think that a response of some sort may be needed.  If you have opened up yourself online then the people connecting do have some expectation that when they ‘talk’ to you online they will get a response.

Some companies have a disclaimer right on their BIOs that not all requests will get a response and if it is customer service you need, then go to the website through proper channels.  The additional benefits of online customer service can be helpful, but many companies are making it clear that you are not guaranteed support via Twitter or Facebook. This is a good way to go for a company like the Cable/ Internet one.

The School Board is somewhat different as they will not do ‘customer service’ as much as an Internet Provider.  People will talk to them about a variety of items, and they need to be ready for it. No response can be the worst thing you do in some situations.

Every company and organization will be different.  As noted before it comes down to planning and knowing how to be ready for a variety of scenarios. Getting a strategy and plan in place will help with this.

Is this something holding you back from putting your business online? What are your fears, doubts and worries about using Twitter and Facebook for your business or organization?  Post a comment and share them here, I will try and give you some ideas to overcome it as best as I can.

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