There were certainly lots of options to cover for the letter C and I looked at CMS (Content Management Systems), Content Marketing (decided it was too close to my previous post on Blogs), Cloud Computing (will leave for another day) and decided to look at the humble, but I believe very important, Comments.
Social Media can be a double edged sword as it is designed to be a two-way channel of communication. You should be working to encourage this as this is what differentiates it from traditional broadcast and print mediums, which are generally one-directional.
Your social media strategy should be to develop more personal relationships with customers so that they can become part of a community around your brands or business. They can then become a great source of feedback and market research and a touchstone to ensure that you are still moving in the right direction.
However, you can also potentially attract alternative viewpoints or negative criticism that you need to be prepared to deal with. There was a great article in Mashable a while ago on How to Deal With Negative Feedback in Social Media. They identified four different types of negative feedback and deciding which you’ve received is the essential first step in working out an appropriate response.
Their categories were:
I would definitely go with the suggestions in the article that you respond positively to the first three categories but ignore the fourth. The key is to respond promptly, not to be negative and not to take it personally. While this can be a challenge, it is best to stay positive at all times.
One way to start is to say “Thanks for bringing this to my attention….” and then go on to explain why you do something that way or that you’ll certainly take a look at their suggestion in the first two categories. With a Merited Attack, start the same way and then outline what action you are taking to rectify or remedy the situation.
I would also recommend that you allow comments that mention alternative products or views. I’ve seen instances where censoring these, so that only the originator’s view is visible, has resulted in attacks (often justified) on that site.
Remember with social media you are trying to build trust and confidence and a two way communication flow, so perhaps Comments are not so humble after all!