We spend a lot of time talking about the positive momentum you can build with social, simply by being present, engaging your audience in a meaningful way, and keeping the focus on building relationships with your connections instead of just blasting out as much content as possible. When you do it right, your social presence shares many similarities with traditional customer service, but in a package that’s much more engaging (and fun) for everyone involved.  You’re there to celebrate the good, answer the uncertain, and, yes, resolve the negative in a way that can leave all parties satisfied to at least a degree.

That last part doesn’t always get the attention it deserves because dealing with negative moments isn’t as fun as building new relationships. But it’s just as important because the brand loyalty you build through engagement ultimately makes customers more likely to forgive when something does go wrong.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When thinking about brand loyalty, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. Every single one of us has had a negative brand experience at some point, and our prior experience with the brand in question undoubtedly has an influence on how we react to adversity. If reps for that brand ignored or were oblivious to our concerns in the past, we’re not likely to give them the benefit of the doubt in the future. It’s a natural reaction, and the same goes for brands that are rude, unhelpful, or unwilling to adapt to the needs of their customers.

On the other side of the coin, you have the brands that make relationships a priority, through both positive and negative moments. When someone has demonstrated a track record of answering questions, addressing concerns, and sharing in fun moments, you’re much more likely to give them a chance to make things right after something goes wrong. Every brand plays lip-service to these concepts, but savvy customers can easily spot which brands will – and won’t – put those words into action.

Handle Adversity by Building Strong Relationships through Social Channels

Social media is a wide-open platform for consumers to connect with brands, and that means you’re going to have interactions that cover the whole spectrum. So no matter how much you care about your customers and how well you run your business, it shouldn’t take long to get some practice handling adversity on social. By focusing on engagement and relationship-building ahead of time, you build up the goodwill that allows you to navigate tough situations without losing the customer involved… I call this “Social Insurance.”

How you engage depends on your business, your personality, and your target audience. When connections comment on content you share, don’t leave them hanging. When they’ve got a question, answer it promptly and thoroughly. Take the initiative, and like/comment/share their stuff, too. Get involved in the community around your niche, and welcome new connections with open arms. Visit their profiles to look for common ground before you even reach out directly, and remember those shared interests when you interact in the future.

All of these things will help you build the brand loyalty that allows your business to bounce back in the customer’s eyes after something goes wrong. When something does go wrong, be respectful, responsive, and willing to listen. You’ll never be able to satisfy every single customer, but when you’re consistent, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how loyalty will shine through. #RonR#NoLetUp!

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