Can One Angry Tweet Destroy Your Brand?

January 25, 2013
Posted by: Matthew Hammer, VP- Marketing

Angry TweetAll it takes is one hot product, one great ad campaign, one media mishap, or focused attention from a top tweeter, and your Facebook page or forum could be bombarded with comments tomorrow.
Are you ready to deal with the deluge?
The influx — if it’s positive — might be welcome, but people who reach out to tell you that they love your product or service want to be and deserve to be acknowledged and thanked.
So many brands in the world, including major brands, have jumped into the social media world without adequate online moderation…or without any at all.

Why? Because:

  • They think they can handle it on their own
  • They believe no one else can properly represent the brand and its brand voice
  • They assume that they’ll never be big enough to need dedicated moderation (that’s small thinking!)
  • They hope that they’ll never attract negativity, and don’t believe positive places need moderation.

“We can just do it ourselves.”
Some brands try to do everything in-house. The issue here is that online moderation requires a skill-set not necessarily present among the staff, even if they’re experienced social media users. Defusing a flame war or calmly addressing a rapidly escalating customer service issue without taking the criticism personally, and feeling attacked can be a challenge for many brand representatives.
Additionally, even if there are staff members capable of assisting customers online, reading through every single piece of user contributed content, listening for every brand mention and dealing with each aggressive spammer, they’re not necessarily able to do so at 3:00 am or on Christmas Day or the day of the company meeting or picnic.
“Nobody else can speak for us.”
LiveWorld moderators are trained to respond the way you wish to or must legally respond as a brand, from adoption of the proper brand voice to, using pharmaceutical firms as one example, dealing effectively with adverse event reporting, off-brand use, and other concerns.
There are a vast number of public responses brands receive on a regular basis, from the expected: “I’m not happy with this product; do you do refunds?” or “I love your stuff!” and requests for sponsorship and donations from charities, to off-topic posts, automated spam, and suicide and bomb threats. Our team has experience dealing with all of these challenging scenarios, can help you develop a response plan for unexpected social media events, and can escalate items that need immediate attention to senior members of your staff.
Additionally, if your brand is new to social media and isn’t sure where to start with consumer outreach or social media interaction LiveWorld Social Strategy & Content Programming teams will be able to help you find the proper approach.
“We’re not that big…we don’t need a dedicated moderation team.”
Moderation isn’t just about handling negative user-generated content; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Most brand-hosted communities and pages on social media platforms like Facebook are full of people who do feel an affinity for the brand. There’s a reason why fans of a page are called fans, after all, and it’s not only because that’s a Facebook-defined term.
Most people “like” a brand on Facebook or visit a hosted community because they do like the brand, not because they plan to spend a lot of time and text disparaging it.
“But everybody loves us! Our brand doesn’t attract negativity!”
On the Internet, anyone – or any brand — can come under fire at some point. All it takes is one disgruntled customer with a lot of friends and followers willing to go to war on their behalf, a few influential people who disagree with your policies, or the traveling army of trolls and spammers always on the lookout for a new place to set up camp.
How will you handle that? Go in and delete everything? There are so many replies to answer, and they’re all over the page. Will you leave some? How will you decide?

Can a Brand Remove User Content?
Certainly, removing customer complaints about a brand are nearly universally regarded as a bad brand practice; deleted comments suggest that the brand is trying to cover up its shortcomings.
However, negative content can also breed more negativity. So dissent is fine, but moderators can help to draw the line between constructive criticism and complaints that the brand should swilftly address to ultimately make fans of those vocal detractors.
The benefit here is that the brand is seen to address complaints fairly and in a helpful fashion, and with the volume of some brand pages, moderation is absolutely necessary if everyone’s concerns are to be addressed in a timely way. This is customer service at its finest.
However, it’s also true that some comments should be removed, on Facebook or hosted communities, because they simply break the rules. They’re spam, or they’re profane, or they attack other users personally via flame wars, or they’re completely off-topic and waste other readers’ time. Experienced moderators are able to deal with these efficiently and defuse explosive situations before they ignite.
Ideally, your customers will be delighted with your brand. As we’ve pointed out, you shouldn’t ignore those people, either! Skilled moderators can encourage positive dialogue, highlight these conversations, respond appropriately, and nurture great relationships between a brand and its customers.
When the Party goes Wrong.
At LiveWorld, we often compare social media destinations to a party, and advise brands on what sort of gathering best exemplifies the mood they wish to convey. A failed party is down to several factors:

  •  The hosts aren’t present to introduce guests and welcome them to the event.
    The brand is invisible on its own social media channels, posting links or ads without starting and nurturing conversations.
  • The mood is “wrong” — the lighting is poor, there are no snacks, and there isn’t any music. The social content isn’t there and the brand voice is inconsistent.
  • Boors are allowed to break the rules and show disrespect for the venue and other guests with poor behavior. Spam, flame wars, and personal attacks against other fans and community members are allowed to occur without consequences.

All of these say that a party host — or a brand — just doesn’t care if the people who matter – the guests, your customers — have a good experience.
Proper levels of moderation coupled with a strong social media strategy will make sure your Facebook page, Facebook forum, Google+ circle or any other branded community with your name on it is someplace welcoming, and someplace special.