Originally posted at SheSpeaks

As much as we might not want to admit it, something negative about our brand will be said sometime by someone in a social network.  It might be due to a change, or something out of the brand’s control or only one little misstep in many months, but chances are, that unfortunate experience will be shared.   Such is the nature of information-sharing through social networks.

But it’s that same nature of social media that also gives us a powerful antidote to negative commentary – ENGAGEMENT.

We might be tempted to cover any negative feedback with a huge push of positive messaging, stating and re-stating how wonderful our products and services really are. This attempt at damage-control, however, does little if anything to protect our brand reputation.  Whether or not our products and services are usually terrific doesn’t matter to the person who had a different experience with our brand, nor to those closest in their social network.  What matters to them is the one unsatisfying experience they had.

This is where engagement becomes vital.  We can stay disengaged and pretend nothing negative was said, but ignoring those comments won’t keep them from spreading quickly through various social networks.  If we choose instead to engage with the consumer(s) making those comments, we have a huge opportunity to help positively change the perception of our brand.

Be careful not to come to those conversations with a defensive or even offensive position.  Consider the following “rules of engagement:

  1. Listen carefully. Search out any additional negative commentary, and be open to truly hearing whatever is said about your brand.
  2. Ask genuine questions. Ask as many questions as you need to ask to feel you understand your customer’s complaint.  This information can inform your next steps now and in the future of your brand!
  3. 3. Empathize. Empathy lets your customer know they have been heard. This step shouldn’t be too difficult, because you truly are sorry that the experience was not top notch for your customer. 
  4. 4. Make it right. Based on what you learned through steps 1-3, let your customer (and their social networks!) know what action you will take to restore their faith in your brand.  This is the step that has the power to spread a newly-positive message throughout this customer’s social networks and effectively wipe out the previous negative message.

Bottom line: When the going gets tough, ENGAGE.  Your customers – and your brand – will thank you for it.

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