With Social Media, you have to take the good, the bad and the ugly.  Recently, I posted a question on an event Facebook page.  After a number of years of holding their event on the same weekend, the date was suddenly changed this year without any explanation from the event organizers.  I asked a question about the reasoning, and not only did my question go unanswered – but it was deleted.  Needless to say, it left me feeling unappreciated and a little mad.

shutterstock_42590644Many businesses have delved right into social media because they understand the value of customers sharing their experiences with other customers or potential new patrons.  Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to get news to your constituents about new products, services and events in a quick and controlled manner.  However, the experiences your customer has with your business may not always be terrific.  It’s not always puppies and kittens.  Sometimes, puppies grow up to be a mean, ugly dog!

While working in a marketing and promotions capacity for L.L.Bean from 2008 to 2011, social media became a prevalent means of communication for the company.  While using Facebook to post pictures of the L.L.Bean concert series, the many “try it before you buy it” events and other experiential activities, the medium also served as a catalyst for consumers to tell us what they really thought about our products and services.  Whether they were upset about the number of products manufactured in China or delayed shipping on a purchase meant for a holiday gift, customers were quick to take to Facebook to express their frustration and dissatisfaction.

It’s tempting to hit “delete” when someone disagrees with a status update or wants to share their poor experience with others.  However, the beauty of social media is that it is a shared experience and conversation starter.  If conversations are only positive and one-sided, then credibility is lost.  Social media users are looking for a realistic view of a business, whether that’s a Trip Advisor review or a comment about an event on Facebook.  As a business, you should be engaging your consumer through social media, not simply talking at them.

If hitting delete isn’t the answer to an uncomfortable question or comment on Facebook, what is?  First and foremost, remember the cardinal rule of public relations:  tell the truth and tell it fast.  If your company has made a mistake – own up to it!  If a diner at your restaurant had a horrible meal and service, apologize!  Most often, complaining consumers just want to know that they’ve been heard and that their concerns are validated.  Second, having a lengthy conversation about an uncomfortable topic in a public forum is kind of like having a fight with your spouse at a party.  Sometimes, it’s best to take it offline.  Provide your Facebook fan, Twitter follower or other social media user with an email address or direct phone number of a company representative who can help resolve the situation versus hashing it out through numerous public posts.

As a last resort, if you find that you’re continually being beat up by a particular follower or fan, it’s okay to block them – particularly if they are becoming belligerent, using inappropriate language or are threatening.  Again, this should be a last resort.

If you have questions about how to incorporate social media into your marketing efforts, contact me today for a free, initial consultation at stephanie@keistercommunications.com

Social media – it’s not all puppies and kittens

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