Techniques On Combating Social Negativity

There is always a moment in chess when you ask yourself if it is better to be on the offensive or simply wait for your opponent to self-destruct.

Such is the case when you deal with negative comments, reviews and related communication in your social media channels.

First and foremost, when you are confronted with negative communication regarding your company, service, products or brand, you need to do the following:
Analyze the negative statement and determine whether it is positioned for discussion or simply a blatant expression of anger.
Then do yourself a favor and conduct some research regarding the commenter. Do their previous comments, Tweets, posts and related communications seem enlightened, educated and worthy of debate? Or is it clear you are dealing with a troll?
In most cases you are better off ignoring the troll. No good can come of that engagement. You will NOT change that person’s mind.

From there, consider the context of the statement and assess the potential reaction within your loyal community. Did this dissenter bring up something your collective community may also be thinking? Could this adversely affect you in the long term? Is the communication compelling enough to establish a seed of doubt in your community?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then it’s time to take action. You can’t just ignore this like the burning sensation that required an awkward trip to your general practitioner.
Here's a few techniques that I always consider:
  1. As long as the content does not aggressively attack your company or service sets, wait to see how other readers digest the content. Many blog posts and comments go unnoticed in a sea of information. We must flag all content pertaining to our brand and see what type of engagement occurs. 
  2. You can call upon your own set of subject-matter experts to refute any fabrications or misinformation. This should be done with complete transparency of the commentator.
  3. You could construct a micro-site along the lines of to address offending content. But don’t do it with a “Me Monster” mentality. It is in your best interest to include content that outlines your competitors and their advantages over your product set. Otherwise the site can be deemed as one-sided, argumentative and potentially a reason for potential (or existing) customers to dismiss you. Therefore, I'm in favor of this direction given that it includes a fair comparison model.
  4. Just like shopping when you're hungry, don't get baited into a needless arguement. Unless the reply REQUIRES you react give it a day to settle. Plus, this will determine how your audience wishes you to proceed, are they defeding you or awaiting a reply as well?
  5. More often than not, posts like this should inspire you to respond with your own blog post. Developing additional content that cites the competitor's post in such a way that invites further discussion will position you as a person or organization that is listening to the industry and responding in an appropriate manner. It's important to note, however, that the content shouldn't be written as a response to a post, but as enriched content that links to the offending post in order to prove or disprove a point.
One more important item: These moments often offer up a magnificent opportunity to ask what’s most important to a significant group of industry peers. Brands frequently have such a high level of risk adversity that they avoid this method because they are afraid of negative discussion about their brand or products. The modern-day consumer and professional is a highly tuned receiver who will typically consider a business that is willing to "open the kimono" as one that is brave enough to take negative criticism and create effective evolution from its discussion.
Food for thought. Have a tip you'd like to share, please do! I'm here to learn as much, if not more, than you are!

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