Dealing with complaints: your social media survival guide

Few places in the world of marketing are as perilous to navigate as the vast open spaces of the social media landscape.

Scathing service criticism, no-holds-barred forum discussions, unhappy customers airing their grievances… it’s enough to scare even the most experienced brand professional. 

Surviving in the harsh social media environment certainly isn’t easy, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter providing a quick and direct way for unhappy customers to complain directly to brands or tell others about their negative experiences. If you want to avoid the many pitfalls and quicksand traps of this particular patch of digital marketing territory, you need some survival advice.

Be prepared

If it’s good enough for Chief Scout Bear Grylls, it’s good enough for us. Where in his case it usually means taking a hunting knife and compass with you everywhere you go, on the off chance you end up stranded in the Borneo rainforest, for brands and social media, being prepared is a little different.

Having a social media page dedicated to your brand means that basically anything can happen. You’re out there, connected to your audience, and if they see fit to send some criticism your way, you have to be ready for it.

This means having a dedicated person on hand to respond to your audience and manage your social media accounts.

Research has shown that more than three-quarters (79 per cent) of customers who contact a brand on social media expect a response within 24 hours.

That’s more time than you have to deal with a venomous snake bite, but in both cases, it’s best to act fast!

Find a survival expert

If you found yourself stranded in a bleak wilderness, chances are you’d want someone like Bear with you. Not only could he point out which disgusting insects you should eat, he might just save your life.

The same goes for social media, kind of.

Knowing exactly how to respond to complaints and criticism is crucial when it comes to determining what people think of your brand.

You might not need Ray Mears to manage your social activity, but at the very least you need someone who understands this world and can come up with the right response at the right time to placate unhappy customers.

Know the terrain

Being able to safely traverse a crevasse may come in handy when you’re halfway up Mount Everest, but in the virtual world it’s not likely to save you from anything.

However, understanding your audience and their various browsing habits, favoured platforms and communication preferences is an essential part of your social media strategy. 

If you know that certain segments of your audience are most likely to contact you on Instagram and will want a response within a matter of hours, for example, you’re in a much better position to meet their expectations and keep them happy.

This knowledge could be enough to save your brand from some hairy situations and turn a complaint into a marketing win.

Keep your provisions in order

Social media is an essential tool in your mission to succeed in the content marketing world, so you need to keep it in good working order.

Have a strategy in place and make sure you stick to it, and if you’re struggling, look for expert help.