Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2010 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on November 21, 2017.
While online technology and the rapid expanse of social media platforms has opened up many exciting opportunities for construction businesses, this heightened exposure has also meant that negative comments, as well as positive ones, spread like wildfire. Regardless of how successful your business is, negative comments over social media will happen and however tempting it is, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. The days of burying customer complaints are over.
Online reputation management is a skill that marketing & PR professionals, as well as business owners, need to master. There is no way of controlling what people say about you but there is a way to manage it in a way that will reflect your company in a positive light. People are more forgiving if you own up, admit to mistakes and will respect you if you manage it in the right way.
Everyone makes mistakes and if an incident happened, it’s the way that you deal with it that could either win people over or damage your reputation.
How to deal with negative comments
The best way to approach negative comments is to react swiftly and with a human approach. Negative news can sometimes be turned into something positive if it is dealt with in the correct way. An unsatisfied customer can be turned into a brand advocate if their problem is dealt with in a professional and timely manner. To rebuild trust, you have to be honest and open about your mistake and how you will go about fixing the problem.
1. Monitor online mentions
Firstly, you can only respond quickly and efficiently if you have the right tools to help you monitor the billions of conversations happening over social media about your company.
Set up Google Alerts for your company name or products to get regular updates in your inbox. Any mention of your brand, your competitors, industry leaders and so on can be tracked via keywords.
There are also a range of social media listening tools out there to help you further manage online conversations:
- Hootsuite – Hootsuite is one of the best free social media listening tools available and covers multiple social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare and Google+. It is well known for its social media management functions, enabling you to post relevant messages and keep up with mentions at the same time.
- Tweetreach – TweetReach is a great monitoring tool for your business if you’re interested in checking how far your Tweets travel, and what people are saying about them. TweetReach measures the actual impact and implications of social media discussions.
- Buzzsumo – Buzzsumo is a great tool for content research, but it also has an excellent way to analyze and monitor your social pages.
2. Respond quickly
Now more than ever we’re realising how online information, regardless of how old it is, can come back to haunt your companies’ reputation in years to come. However, the great advantage of social media is that it can be used to proactively reply to customers and get your message out there for everyone to see.
Please note that the same rules apply online as they do offline: make sure your messaging is consistent and channeled through the most appropriate person (or team of company representatives).
Check out these few professional replies below…
3. Add value
When you do respond to negative press, do not get personal (as shown above). Pause before engaging with complaints because remember that whatever you say will remain in the public space. You do not want to repeat the same mistakes other companies have made, by fighting back with negativity and attacking the person who complained. In your response you should show how you are going to solve the problem or put them in touch with someone who can talk to them personally and deal with the issue.
4. Be sincere
There is nothing worse than being insincere and taking your customers or prospects for a fool. Social media is a place of transparency and people will know if you are telling them lies or false facts. If required, explain why the mistake or problem happened and how you will put it right – but where possible always take the conversation away from social media by providing them with the appropriate contact details. You can then discuss their issue in more detail away from the public eye. While replying on social media demonstrates to others that you are an open and honest company, there is no need to host the entire conversation on a public platform.
Have you had to deal with negative complaints about your company?
For further information on this contact us on 01908 671707, or for guidance on developing an effective social media strategy, download our Social Media eBook here.