There’s no doubt that when you embrace something as vast as Social Media, you leave your brand exposed. If you publish something on any social platform, you can’t control who sees it or indeed shares it. There are of course ways to target the post towards a specified audience, but realistically, you can’t hide it from a certain collection of people.
This is by no means a reason to disregard social media; rather it is more reason to have a concrete strategy put in place and a dedicated individual/team/department/agency monitoring your activity… Turn your back, and people will talk about you.
So, picture the scene: Levi’s Jeans is having an end of season sale. It wants to let its Facebook fans know about this… and why not? After all, its Facebook following is larger than the population of New Zealand, Denmark, Hungary, Czech Republic, Portugal, Greece, Cambodia… I’ll stop. 14 million fans is nothing to laugh at; it’s a massively respectable following.
However, what happens when you post a picture advertising your brand’s sale? The answer is… no-one knows, but I was browsing Facebook last night and a Levi’s image appeared on my news feed:
Disgruntled fans on the Levi’s Facebook page
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Now, obviously this is just a ‘snapshot’ of 10 comments, but trust me, 24 hours on and the comments have gotten no better.
So, judging from the above, what justification is there for a brand to join Facebook? Not just Levi’s, but any brand. If people are going to talk negatively about you, why bother? In our social lives we don’t surround ourselves that are rude about us… Should social networking be the same?
Whether you have 14 fans or indeed 14,000,000, someone will always have something damaging to say about you. That’s just life…
I’ve worked with many people that are totally manipulated by this notion, but my thoughts always remain the same – try to turn negative engagement into positive. This doesn’t mean becoming a grovelling, desperate, apologetic mess – it simply means ‘listening’.
For Levi’s, which now has a massive portfolio of products, clothing and accessories, why not become part of that comment thread? Don’t ignore your audience… Acknowledge its dissatisfaction with the clothing and offer an alternative. This doesn’t necessarily mean you become self-deprecating or remorseful, it simply means you’ve simply taken the comments on board.
On a much smaller scale, I’ve often seen it with local restaurants that I follow on Twitter. A dissatisfied customer will tweet the restaurant, explaining how their food was poor (or something along those lines). On the face of it, it’s a seemingly inconsequential comment, but if this is left by the restaurant in question, I’d certainly think twice about going there myself. However, if there is a public response addressing the situation, suddenly, this initial negative association is flipped on its head.
Here’s my confession: each and every one of my clients has had negative engagement via social. To be honest, I’d be worried if they hadn’t. It’s very easy to panic and defend your brand; it’s a natural response. It’s a lot more effective to step back from the situation and offer a resolution, an alternative, an answer.
Many big brands simply think this is resolved by offering a voucher, or a further route of contact. This isn’t the answer, this is the excuse; herding the individual to a less public facing channel. Be confident and address the matter on the platform.