Reacting to a Feedback Crisis

We communications professionals spend countless hours planning and developing these all-encompassing communication strategies to consider every possible angle of corporate information sharing. From branding techniques to internal culture development, all facets of communication plans must be considered – brand recognition, digital presence, stakeholder relations, market presence and, of course, communication crisis management.

One of today’s most common communication crises that organizations face is how and when to handle negative social media engagement. The best weapons against negative social media feedback are transparency, humility and expediency. In some cases, light-hearted humor wins the day by diffusing further aggression and transforming the engagement into a campaign that ends up increasing brand recognition and appreciation!

Ten years ago, ignoring negative customer feedback on social media was merely communication ignorance or irresponsible oversight. A decade later, it is a poor judgement call that can go from a small ripple to crippling damage for brand image. For a company to ignore any traction gained by a customer’s feedback, especially now that the public is policing businesses more than ever, it leaves room for unnecessarily escalation into a crisis. Going viral is both feared and revered for good reason!

Failure to recognize the influence social media has on a brand’s image signifies a lack of current online engagement comprehension. An organization’s inability to diagnose the severity of a problem and then prescribe the ideal communication strategy implementation tactics will only enhance the crisis. Not taking responsibility and carrying out appropriate reactions with haste shows poor communications leadership, given the accessibility of the media and the expediency of crowd-casting.

While the internet is full of negative commentary usually not worth exploring, a disgruntled customer leaving a full account of poor customer service on a company’s social media wall, especially on a high-targeting medium, cannot be ignored. A consumer story or account of a recent experience can trigger the telling of similar experiences with the company, so it is important for brands to always monitor their digital presence. There are countless cases studies documented as clear indicators of how powerful social media interactions between an entity and its public are. At the end of the day, it is the trends in buying behavior and the entity’s image and reputation that tell the ultimate story.

While there are countless instances where companies failed to respond correctly to a crisis spawned by lackluster social media engagement, there are just as many instances where a communications crisis comes from something the company initiated itself. The wrong reaction to a conceived social media ad campaign can make matters even worse given how influential social media is to overall communication plans and branding efforts.

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