More Consumers Complain on Social Media

Every business runs the risk of having customers complain about their products or services on social media.

Before you add social media to your public relations strategy or launch a social media campaign, you should address whether or not your company is prepared for the expectations that come with managing a social media presence.

William Benoit and Augustine Pang previously published an article on Crisis Communications and Image Repair Discourse that is GREAT for those looking to gain a better understanding of crisis communications, and I suggest it to anyone with access to scholarly articles.

Image / Brand Management

Benoit describes a company’s image, or reputation, as “a very important asset” that is based on the subjective impressions that people have of that company. Pinsdorf says that threats to a company’s image are omnipresent and that “public relations crises are no longer a matter of if, but when.”

Great Expectations

According to a study conducted by Edison Research, consumers have great expectations for companies online. Part of the challenge is that “24% of American Internet users expect a company to respond within 30 minutes, regardless of when the contact was made.”

Be it in the middle of the night, on the weekends, or during regular 9-5 business hours, your consumers will complain about your brand—are you prepared to respond to their concerns? Most small businesses don’t have a public relations or social media manager dedicated to monitoring their online activity, so how can you deal with social media complaints while operating on a budget?

Dealing with Complaints

Melinda Emerson, one of America’s leading small business experts, suggests that companies “create Google Alerts for the company name, products, and top three industry competitors” to ensure that the brand is in aware of conversations online. You can also use mobile apps like Hootsuite to get notifications instantly.

Now that you’re aware of the issue, be sure to address it early! Read the complaint carefully to ensure that you understand the issue, and take some time to understand the user making the complaint.  Simply by taking a step back to understand the user’s issue makes them feel valued. 

Tailor your response using behavioral and personal information that can be found right there on their social media profile. Emerson suggests that you also pay attention to what platform the complaint was made on.  She says that “different platforms require different conversations. A Facebook user doesn’t want you to talk to them like you’re on Twitter.” So leave the hashtags on the appropriate platform and make sure that you sound like a person and not a robotic/automated message.

Business Vibes suggests that you “remain open and transparent, if there genuinely is a complaint to answer, then find a solution that not only fixes the problem in the future, but also makes the customer happy.”

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share your social media management tips below and help your fellow PR pros out!

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Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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