Bad Publicity Hurts
Ever hear the old saying “Any publicity is good publicity?” Well, it’s not true. Bill Clinton pretty definitively proved that one false a decade ago.
Negativity about your brand is bad. People are emotional creatures. Studies have shown that we remember negative feelings better than positive ones. If a person has a negative association with your brand, that person will enjoy your products or services less. As marketers in the 1980s used to say, “Perception is Reality.”
Twitter is the Worst of the Worst
Twitter is a uniquely terrible place to get bad publicity. The mechanics of Twitter allow a negative post to spread farther and faster than in any other medium, offline or online.
Even worse, Twitter is pretty much the worst place in the world to have a meaningful or helpful conversation with a customer. The anonymity turns many people into barbarians, and the 140 character limit reduces written interaction to the level of grunting cavemen.
However, we humans can tame the beasts within. Here’s how:
- Let’s Take This Outside
Twitter is a crowded room and someone is yelling at you. Try to get off Twitter at every turn.
Respond promptly with two tweets. In the first, offer a brief response to the person’s complaint or criticism. In the second, state several ways the person can contact you directly to discuss this privately. Include your public contact number and email address.
If the person persists in making negative tweets, respond politely by firmly. Restate your positions and again ask the person to contact you directly so you can better address their complaints. Just like with real-life assertive communication, it is okay to repeat yourself. You have the right to set a boundary regarding how you will reply to negative statements.
- Call the Cops
If a person makes abusive personal attacks, or continues to make unfounded negative tweets despite being repeatedly asked to contact you directly, then don’t hesitate to report him to Twitter. This person obviously just wants to abuse you, and has no interest in ever becoming your customer, so you have nothing to lose.
The powers that be are usually on the ball when it comes to shutting down abusive accounts.
- Don’t Throw Water on an Oil Fire
However, if Twitter’s moderators do not immediately take action, do not continue to engage with the abusive person.
The absolute last thing you need is to get dragged into a shouting match on Twitter. If there is no pleasing a person, don’t even try. Disengage entirely.
At the same time, push harder for the Twitter mods to do something about it. Email and call them until they act. Document the time of every abusive tweet and send them updated histories of the abuse. There is no reason that your brand should get dragged through the mud just so some jerk can get his jollies on Twitter.
Like a real life conflict, there are a lot of ways to resolve the situation without getting abusive or insulting. Keep to the high road, stay assertive, and you’ll control the damage of a negative tweet just fine.
Steve is a Social Media Manager and Google AdWords Certified Individual at TechWyse, an internet marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. TechWyse specializes in SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing. You can read more of Steve’s writing at TechWyse.com/blog.