An effective social media marketing strategy calls for brands to respond to both positive and negative engagement.

Handle negative social feedback with care to build trust [Interview]

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Social media offers brands in all industries a direct channel to meaningful conversations with their target audiences. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, consumers turn to these networks to share their opinions and experiences of brands with friends or followers. There is another side to social media marketing, though, that many still struggle to master. It’s inevitable that a customer or prospect will use social to complain. A late delivery, a malfunctioning product or another bad experience are all reasons people will turn to social to express frustration.

The key for brands is to respond to this feedback promptly and effectively. According to Mariel Milla, ecommerce content manager for business gifts company Myron Corp., handling negative social outreach offers two primary benefits that are invaluable for any company.

“I think you gain more trust when audiences see you following up with complaints. You can turn around some frustrated customers. They may be unhappy, but it gives you a chance to promote your brand,” Mariel Milla, Ecommerce Content Manager, Myron Corp.

“When you get negative feedback from a customer, it gives you an idea of how to improve your business as well as a chance to help a dissatisfied customer,” Milla said in an interview with Brafton. “Any social feedback, positive or negative, shows which products or services people are interested in, and it lets you work with someone to improve their perception of your company.”

Milla said that truly understanding a customer’s complaint is important. Blindly responding with a discount or some other accommodation isn’t likely solve the real problem. Even the most successful companies will have the occasional mishap, and addressing the issue shows prospects their business is important.

Keeping track of social presences regularly to respond to feedback that requires an answer tells prospects a company is willing to take the take time necessary to drive sales. Milla believes this builds trust that is increasingly important to the modern consumer. Brafton recently highlighted a study from that suggested 80 percent of Americans won’t work with brands that haven’t earned their trust.

Mariel Milla, Ecommerce Content Manager, Myron Corp.

Mariel Milla, Ecommerce Content Manager, Myron Corp.

“It’s somewhat dishonest if you get complaints and just ignore them,” Milla said. “If you aren’t going to handle both sides of social media then maybe it isn’t for you. I think you gain more trust when audiences see you following up with complaints. You can turn around some frustrated customers. They may be unhappy, but it gives you a chance to promote your brand.”

Milla’s sentiments echo a statement from Bing’s Duane Forrester earlier this year. In a Bing blog post urging marketers to develop an effective social presence, Forrester highlighted two key points:

  • If you’re involved, you can influence the direction of the conversation.
  • If you’re involved, you can respond as needed to build your community.

An effective web marketing presence helps brands control their reputation online. For many, it starts with content marketing and social sharing, but preparing for social engagement is equally important. Milla and countless other marketers have seen the benefits of working with customers on different social platforms. Despite this, a report from Social Bakers revealed only two industries measured in the study addressed more than half of complaints and negative feedback fielded through social media.

Joe Meloni
Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.