February 19, 2010

Damage Control for Social Media


Hostway Team

By Vilie Farah

The Internet brings numerous marketing opportunities but also poses threats to small business sales. Sometimes, a corporate blog or a comment in a social Web site is followed by derogatory remarks or belittling statements.

Leaving such negative comments unanswered is not the best option. Yet, you should know when and how to respond. Selecting the right tone and words is essential when dealing with Internet negativism.

When to Respond

When a false claim is made. Often, people will post disparaging comments without checking facts. You must set the record straight. Try to list facts and evidence that prove the user’s claim is wrong. Never underestimate the power of Internet rumors. Social media are extremely popular among most people and information presented there is often taken at face value.

When someone openly asks for a response from your company. People will often post open questions, expecting answers from your company. Refusing to answer will either signify that you have something to hide or that you lack interest in communication with potential partners and clients. Never leave questions unanswered, try to address all postings that concern your business, services and products.

When someone challenges you. People will often challenge postings about your company just to see your reaction. Be careful when addressing such postings, since getting involved could be tricky. Keep your tone neutral, provide information and answer the challenge. Never allow emotions and anger to take control.

When a claim gains momentum. Social media postings often unleash a chain reaction. If one user complains, someone else will follow. The “me too” phenomenon could turn into an avalanche of complaints and angry postings. If you see this happening, get involved immediately.

How to Respond

Set the right tone. When answering claims and questions in social media, keep your tone professional and polite. Never insult users and never allow emotions to gain control. Your postings should sound competent, cool and intelligent. Thank everyone for the feedback and try to keep the discussion open. State that you will be happy to answer other questions and that you will welcome comments and constructive criticism.

Be honest. If people accuse you of a real shortcoming explain that you are working on the issue. Show social sites users that their feedback is appreciated and will be taken into consideration. Always express your desire to do better and to incorporate suggestions and interesting ideas in your business activities.

Keep in mind that social Web sites are powerful tools that can manipulate people and harm your business image. Refusing to answer comments can often aggravate the situation, since users having malicious intents will be granted the freedom to keep on belittling you. Furthermore, refusing to answer questions and to get involved in a discussion will signal haughtiness and lack of interest in open communication about your activities.

About the Author

Vilie Farah is an SEO professional with five years of experience in the sphere. She has been a team leader in designing and creating various Web sites and Internet portals. Her main area of experience is content provision and optimization.

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