Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Three Tactics for Responding to Social Media Criticism

Social Media CriticismResponding to social media criticism is difficult – a short, punchy response can make you look too aggressive, while a reasoned response is often lost on an audience out for blood. In an age of Internet anonymity, people from all walks of life will spew whatever they want, wherever they want online no matter how it may affect those on the other side of the screen. This medium of communication, especially when it deals with businesses interacting with their customers, is a relatively new game that can seriously influence public perception. The process of analysing online feedback is now so important to major organizations that the United States Air Force has created a procedure for responding to bloggers, encouraging PR experts to only respond to comments in certain situations.

These three tactics can help you take on a social media criticism problem, particularly one that stands to damage your organization's reputation. If you've spent the last day staring at an angry blog post, a snarky column, or a rather rude comment, apply these tactics and judge its negative value before you craft a reply.

1) Ignorance is bliss, at least in the eyes of Google

As tempting as it may be to put a biased blogger in their place, doing so may cause more damage than you'd think. Blog posts, like other dynamic pages, tend to gain PageRank and search visibility through the work of their readers. Inbound links, comments, and activity can all contribute to high search placements, often for terms that you'd rather not see attached to your company's name. Simply ignoring these negative posts will make it less likely that they meet the eyes of more readers.

2) Some people just aren't rational; resist the temptation to use reason

A reasoned response should be enough, right? Often it's not, particularly on blogs that earn their keep through generating (and capitalizing on) controversy. If you're being picked on by a gossip blog or questionable online publisher, leave the event to die out on its own. A response, however reasoned and valuable, might just provide more fuel for the hungry critics. The more attention you give them, the more they’ll feel that what they’re doing is working.

3) Think in terms of value. Will a response help your business?

Some marketers think that more is always good. They're wrong, especially when it comes to content that's steeped in controversy. You should only ever respond to public criticism when it could change your business, especially for the worst. If the audience appears to have made up their minds without any input from your business, leave them be and focus on developing value elsewhere. Genuine complaints from reasonable people do happen however and clearing these up can greatly improve your image.

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