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Inbound Marketing Blog

    7 Reasons to Proactively Plan for Social Media Complaints

    Posted by Jasmine Henry

    Social Listening Isn’t Optional

    Even if your company has the best product and customer service in your industry, there’s a pretty good chance that someone will end up dissatisfied at some point in the future. There’s almost an equally good chance that they won’t let you know directly. 96% of unhappy clients never report their issue directly to the brand, even though 91% will never do business with it again. It costs around 5 times more to acquire a new customer than retain old business.

    Are you scared yet? The statistics get even scarier. 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any media, including your company’s Twitter feed, blog, and your glowing reviews on Google+. If your company misses the boat on providing a wonderful customer experience, the average person won’t ask you to make it better. He or she will probably just Tweet about it, and their 129 followers will never buy product or service from you. Planning for social media complaints is crucial, and here’s why:

    1. Your Competitors Aren’t

    plan for social media complaints

    image credit: Jay Baer

    Providing customer service should be a no-brainer. However, for many brands, it isn’t. Studies have indicated that only 29% of brands bother to respond to negative feedback on Twitter. What’s even more impressive about this research is that only 1% of customers use Twitter as a first step towards reaching resolution. In the words of marketing expert Jay Baer, “Let’s see if I have this right. Angry customers...shouting about it in a public forum. That does not seem to me to be an equation that 70% of companies should ignore.”

    2. It Doesn’t Magnify Complaints

    It may come as a surprise to some readers, but Baer has found that many companies consciously choose to not get involved in social media conversations because they’re afraid that it’s going to make the problem worse. This simply isn’t true. Ignoring a negative Tweet won’t make the issue go away, and every brand has the prerogative to end a conversation if it gets out of hand or turns out to be a troll. The majority of your customers will be overjoyed to get a response.

    3. Your Window of Time Is Limited

    If you’re wondering whether you can set aside a few minutes for social listening every Sunday morning, the answer is no. You need to actively monitor and listen, and have a plan in place for how you’ll expediently address concerns. 50% of consumers give a company a week to resolve an issue before they buy from a competitor, and that particular estimate may even be on the generous side. Other major studies indicate that the average Twitter user expects a response in two hours or less.

    4. It’s Actually Effective

    Marketers have been saying for years that responding to social media complaints in a public forum can change public perceptions of your brand, because it displays great customer service skills and a sensitivity towards the issue. Turns out, we were right for once. More than half of consumers change their minds when they receive a response, and 22% of them are tickled pink enough to publish something positive. Having a plan in place for social media complaints is actually an effective way to improve social chatter about your company.

    5. Not Every Comment Warrants a Response

    It’s an unfortunate fact that responding to social media complaints isn’t always the right tactic. In fact, sometimes it might hurt worse than it helps. This is why you need to have a plan in place, so that a well-meaning colleague doesn’t start a Twitter flame war with a troll while your boss is on vacation. Word-of-mouth marketing expert Andy Sernovitz recommends using the following criteria as a checklist for distinguishing between a situation that warrants a response, and one that doesn’t:

    • The criticism is on a tiny forum, and responding will bring credibility or attention to something that would have gone unnoticed.

    • It’s a blatant personal attack, and the agenda is clear to anyone reading the Tweet or Facebook post.

    • A known troll is out to pick a fight.

    Unless your brand has attracted the attention of a number of trolls, the vast majority of comments will warrant a response. However, your plan should address when to just leave well enough alone.

    6. Your Prospects Are Watching

    People really do care how you respond. In fact, they care a great deal. Being proactive enough about fixing a problem could actually inspire some positive conversations. When baby gear manufacturers Graco had over 2 million strollers recalled, they could have been the target of lots of negative talk. However, they were incredibly responsive and transparent, which inspired the following dialogue:

    plan for social media complaintsimage credit: Social Media Examiner

    7. Ignoring It Will Make it Worse

    There’s no better way to infuriate an annoyed consumer than ignoring their complaints. In fact, the phenomenon of backlash against censorship is so real that it even has a name, the Streisand effect. It’s named after the singer, who faced increasing exposure when she tried to suppress information about her private residence back in 2003. Don’t be a censor, and never delete feedback that’s honest and constructive.


    How does your brand plan to deal with complaints on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks?

    Social Media Tuneup

    image credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: Social Media