I am inspired by Subway to take a step back and revisit a lesson that brands should remember when choosing how to handle negativity on social media. This week, someone posted a photo on Subway’s international Facebook page showing its signature footlong sandwich next to a tape measure, clearly indicating that the sandwich was only 11 inches in length. The photo received over 100,000 likes or comments before it disappeared from the page. Even after the original post was taken down, many customers were still outraged over the missing inch and posted their own pictures and comments.
It isn’t clear if Subway removed the post, if Facebook removed it or if the poster decided the missing inch of his sandwich wasn’t that important. Regardless of where the post went, people are still commenting and originating new posts on the same topic, and Subway seems to be somewhat quiet in the matter. This is one common mistake in responding to – or not responding to – negative social media feedback. Ignoring negative comments may seem the easiest way to handle these situations, but in the end it could do more damage than good. Other common mistakes when dealing with negative comments on social media include:
- Ignoring Posts. Stop and think: if this customer called you on the phone or confronted you in your store, would you ignore them then? Social media is no different.
- Deleting Posts. Unless the post contains inappropriate language or content, leave it up. This gives your brand an air of credibility and transparency.
- Waiting too Long to Respond. Responding quickly could keep the issue from blowing up or gaining traction as the Subway post did.
- Not Responding in a Genuine Manner. Customers can see through “corporate speak.” Being honest and genuine shows customers you respect them.
- Not Providing a Solution or Outlet for Your Customer. The customer is always right, right? Then give them an outlet so you can make the situation better for the next person. Usually that’s all a disgruntled customer wants – to be heard, understood and responded to.
A brand should build a social space in which customers, fans and followers feel they can engage, both in a positive and negative light. Developing a protocol for these situations can help marketers best handle negative social media comments without making the same old mistakes.