SPECIAL FEATURE: Generating positives from twitter

Robyn Hall

September 9, 2014

A while back I spoke to an industry contact of mine about why their business didn’t have any social media presence at all – no Facebook page, no twitter account, no LinkedIn Group – nothing. As someone who has seen the huge positives in terms of having an active presence on social media – check out who is number one in the Convey Top100 social media influencers in case you’re doubtful of my credentials (www.tmgroup.co.uk/blog/page/Convey100) – I was slightly mystified as to why this business hadn’t embraced these communication channels.

The answer I’m told was quite simple – the business didn’t want to deal with complaints made over social media by miffed customers.

The feeling was that, even though this firm prided itself on the low level of complaints it received, it would be damaging to the brand to have any sort of negative opinion splashed over websites which could be seen by millions of potential customers.

I have to say that, given the growing number of ‘social media fails’ that are often perpetrated by firms active online, you might see their point. Why indeed have customers (or indeed rival firms hiding behind a cloak of anonymity) disparaging your business?

These channels do appear to need constant monitoring and my contact felt this was too big a price to pay and it would be better to stay off such media and keep their collective heads beneath the parapet.

That was their choice but I still can’t help feeling that firms that choose to adopt this approach have both their head in the sand and are missing something of a trick.

Firstly, firms that choose not to engage with social media because of the fear of criticism must also accept that nowadays there are plenty of third-party websites where that criticism can be voiced.

Essentially the firm is in the world of social media whether they like it or not.

However, if they are not actively engaged with social media then those remarks or complaints or views are simply never answered and can never be rectified.

I believe firms can learn a lot from dealing with such customer views and therefore it will be beneficial to be active in this area.

So, in a very true sense, the positives of a strong social media presence far outweigh the negatives and while you will always come across the odd cretinous individual or a member of the lunatic fringe, there are plenty of ways and means to deal with them – the ignore button normally – while focusing on generating positive content and relationships.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that everything can be a bed of roses online however, with a large dose of common sense, issues can be overcome or bypassed completely.

Indeed, social media gives the opportunity to provide immediate reaction and to ensure there are no mixed messages.

This is why many celebrities, for example, use social media to talk directly to their fans – a recent example being Gary Barlow of Take That fame who responded to criticism of his tax affairs recently by apologising via his Twitter account.

Therefore, while social media can be one big love-fest and provide a real opportunity to explore very fulfilling personal and business relationships, it can also provide the opportunity to respond to criticism and complaint.

When doing this, there are a number of ‘rules’ – firstly, be courteous and appropriate in your tweets particularly to those with a grievance.

Secondly, try not to get into protracted ‘conversations’ in the full sight of everyone – suggest to the individual concerned that that these issues might be better discussed either on the phone/through direct messaging/on e-mail, etc. There will always be those who want to play out their ‘issues’ in public and you won’t be able to stop this but those who are genuine will want to have their issues heard and dealt with.

In effect, take control of the situation, move quickly to respond and look for the settlement.

Dealing with this type of social media interactivity does not need to be a full-time job, nor should it detract from the good things happening online, but it must be addressed quickly and responsibly.

Therefore, my advice is to ignore the haters, engage appropriately with those genuine posters, and set about generating positivity in your content.

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