By engaging with audiences through social media channels brands are effectively trying to create personalities that will more effectively allow them to build relationships with existing and potential consumers. This is exactly the right thing to do, it is vital that brands become more human as we move into a many to many model of communication. Once brands become more human they can more easily engage in conversations, offer opinions and advice but more importantly become more believable and trust worthy.
Negative sentiment and feedback is a natural bi-product of having profiles within the social media space. As with real world relationships you can’t (and won’t) please everybody all the time. So what do you do when the inevitable happens and people post comments to your profiles that tell you how crap you are?
I think the most important thing to do is preempt the inevitable. Recognise that it will happen before you enter the space and prepare appropriately.
Secondly (where a brand/agency relationships exists) there needs to a process agreed, or protocol in place to deal with negative feedback. This may include examples of negative feedback with varying degrees of negativity, response times and who will draft the response. Most negative situations will have minimal fall out if dealt with quickly, honestly and in a transparent way. The great thing about social media is that it gives users the opportunity to have a more open dialogue with brands. So brands should use it as such.
Lastly I think it’s important to realise that feedback no matter how negative is an opportunity for brands to develop relationships and gain a better understanding of their user base. Brands should never be afraid of open dialogue or bury their heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening or just hope it goes away. As I said above most complaints can be turned around if dealt with quickly and efficiently.