"If I had listened to the critics, I'd have died drunk in the gutter." - Anton Chekhov


Commentary: Dealing with negative feedback on social media

Rebecca Coleman on her blog, 1/23/12

One of the main reasons businesses give me for not wanting to jump into social media is because they are afraid of being flamed. Putting yourself out there involves a certain amount of risk: what if someone says something negative about you? Here's the truth: people are going to talk about you. Either positively or negatively. But they will talk about you. Isn't it better to know? At least, if you know, you can take steps to repair the damage, and perhaps turn that customer around.

1. You need to monitor your feeds. You need to check in with your Facebook Page your Twitter account, and your blog comments at least once a day. Social media tools are rapidly becoming the latest and best customer service tools, rapidly replacing the telephone and even email.

2. Don't assume that you are getting the whole picture. People may be talking about you, but may not be aware that you have a Facebook Page or a Twitter account. They could be talking about you on other blogs. So, you need some additional tools: Google Alerts (which will scan the interwebz for blog posts that mention your business' name), a running Twitter search (also scanning for your name, and easy enough to set up if you are using a program like Hootsuite), and every once in a while, type your business' name into the search feature on Facebook.

3. Making it right. This is a tough one, partly because we live in a "the customer is always right" world. And let's face it: the customer isn't always right. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so it may be better to err on the side of caution. If something genuinely has gone wrong, your first step is to acknowledge that. Simply acknowledging that there is a problem will allay most of the negative feelings. Then, do what you can to make it right. Also, know when to address comments in public (usually at first, so that anyone who visits your site afterwards can see that it was dealt with) and when to address in private (negotiating a deal). I do not recommend you delete negative comments.

Check out this article, How To Deal With Complaints On Facebook Pages, on AllFacebook.com.


Commentary: Tuning out negative comments online

Michelle, Talenthouse blog, 11/29/11

For those of you who've received negative comments about your work on the internet, here's a guide to coping with it and keeping from getting discouraged. It's not hard to understand why many artists are probably uncomfortable with exposing their work to the world of ubiquitous critics on the internet. With all the conveniences it has brought, the internet has introduced some decidedly inconvenient traits that are here to stay. Among them is the power of anonymity, which shields people from having to take responsibility for their words and leaves them free to say things more hurtful than what they might say in real life. This can turn a little bump in the road into a major distraction for an aspiring artist. Every artist's journey has some negative feedback; don't let unkind words turn into an unwanted situation.

Avoid responding. Even though your instincts will urge you to react defensively, this is an instance in which it's best to suppress them. In the long run, you'll be glad you didn't get into a flame war with a complete stranger and look amateurish. It's entirely possible that the original poster intended to upset you, and responding may only stroke their ego more. Ask yourself what the worst thing is that can happen if you respond. Then ask yourself what the worst thing is that can happen if you don't respond.

Focus on the positive. This sounds easier said than done, but take a minute to run through every positive piece of feedback you have received. A genuine, nice bit of feedback is far more valuable than a post that took ten seconds to write. Although it may not seem like it in times like this, the number of good-natured, polite people in the world outnumbers the bad.

Try not to obsess over it. Do allow a minute to review the negative feedback - did the person give any reasons for not liking your work? If they did not, dismiss it. A non-constructive remark is even less worthy of a reaction from you. If so, are they concrete, logical, or plausible? Try and see if there's credence in the flaws that have been pointed out. Take what's useful and discard the rest. This is how you make your work better and move forward.


Commentary: Why a negative review may not be so bad after all

Matt Rhodes, eConsultancy.com, 6/8/11

There is a temptation to think that negative reviews are always a bad thing for a brand. Some of them definitely are, but it's much more nuanced than that. Recent stats suggested that between one and three bad reviews would deter 67% of customers from a purchase, but not all negative reviews are bad for businesses. As a recent example from a US cinema shows, context is all important. In the three days since 3 June, a negative review of an experience at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Austin, Texas has beenseen on YouTube by almost 1 million people. The video is a 90-second diatribe about the way one customer thinks they were badly treated, criticising the cinema, its staff and saying it is not good value for money.  It isn't a great review of this customer's experience and the sort of negative review many brands are worried about attracting online. But this review wasn't posted by the customer. It was made into a video and posted by the Alamo Drafthouse cinema. [They don't] allow people to use their mobile phones when they are watching a film, the customer who left this review had done just this and had so been thrown out of the cinema. They were unhappy, but most of the reactions online suggested that this review actually had a positive impacton other people, with many saying that they would rather go to a cinema that ejected customers who used their phones, or one that didn't allow people to cause a scene during a film. The negative review had a positive impact. When we think about reviews we should move away from analysing the reviews as being negative or positive based on the language used, and think of them instead as pieces of information that help others to make a decision. Reviews are useful not for what they say but for the impact they have; they are not something to be worried about, even when they are expressed in negative terms.

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