The power of social media can be a two-edged sword. It’s fast. It’s relatively inexpensive. It gives you an extensive reach that you might never have otherwise. And when customers and clients are raving about you, word can spread like wildfire.
Ah, but what happens when social media (Facebook, Twitter, your comments section on house.com) becomes “anti-social” media? What if your clients or customers start saying negative things about you? That kind of word can spread like wildfire as well. And if you’re not careful, it can ruin your reputation.
So what can you do if instead of singing your praises, people are complaining about you in a very public place—the Internet? Let’s look at some “Do’s and Don’ts” when dealing with unwelcome social media attention.
Do monitor all of your social media platforms regularly.
The only thing worse than being called out online is if you’re oblivious to it. Staying on top of possible problems makes it easier to deal with them and can limit your exposure to negative criticism. Plus, responding quickly shows that you’re responsive.
Don’t be defensive.
None of us like to be criticized and it’s a natural instinct to defend ourselves, but that can backfire. Instead of asserting your innocence, thank the commenter for bringing a potential problem to your attention. Assure them that you want to make sure things are right, and promise to look into the situation immediately. It makes you look reasonable and allows you to reiterate your commitment to quality.
Do ask for more information offline.
Respond to your client and let them know you want to ask them specific questions about what happened and how you can address the problem. Ask them to contact you personally by phone or by email so that you can pursue a solution.
Don’t get into too much detail out in public.
A public forum isn’t the right place to hash out a solution (unless you have discovered a problem that you want input for). The general public (or even your potential customers) don’t need to get mired in the details. What they need to see is that you take customers seriously and don’t ignore them.
Do be courteous at all times and encourage comments.
If you clearly made a mistake, own up to it and promise to make it right. That can go a long way toward gaining trust.
Don’t delete the comment (unless it’s vulgar or offensive)
It’s also wise not to try to “bury” the comment with a flood of other information in hopes that it will go away. If you do that, viewers will be suspicious that you’re hiding something.
It’s a simple fact of life that social media can sometimes become a little bit anti-social. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. Use it to your advantage. Be real, be responsive, and be professional in your response. That’s both how and why social media works so well.