Apology Accepted, Maybe.

The case study “When the Twitterverse Turns On You” looks at a common occurrence for companies and brands on Twitter – backlash and negative comments. It happens all the time, to all brands, good and bad. This particular case study is fictionalized, but portrays an all too common situation: a company that decides to use the power of Twitter to host a conversation or contest. The idea is to get people talking about their brand, which gives them visibility to the public as well as a platform for creating a positive relationship with the public. The one problem: the public is unpredictable.

In the fictional case, an airline decides to hold a Twitter contest that uses a hashtag and the creativity of the tweeting public. The problem, however, arises when the tweeting public decides to use the hashtag and get creative by bashing the airline with negative comments.

Some notable brands that this has happened to over the years include The Home Depot, Nokia, McDonald’s and Price Chopper. Price Chopper decided that when someone tweeted at them with a negative comment, they would respond with in a not so positive or understanding way. This was a mistake.

Negative tweet from Price Chopper customer.

Another brand that has had a notable fail is Nestle, who on Facebook rather than Twitter, decided that censoring negative comments on a post, attempting to delete comments, and pushing back at customers’ comments was a good move. You guessed correctly, it wasn’t.

Nestle’s negative comments on Facebook.

So what can brands do when no so positive comments or conversation comes up on social channels? The best thing to do is simply “be human.”When I say be human, I mean listen, understand, and fix. The reason customers complain is because they either genuinly care and want you to change, or because they are looking for a reaction. By reacting negatively, brands are only hurting themselves. It makes them look bad, doesn’t do anything to fix relationships with customers who care, and gives those making negative comments for reaction exactly what they want.

On the other hand, brands that take action to listen and do their best to fix the problem with the mentality that “the customer is always right” will usually see positive outcomes. Those who care will feel cared for and respect the brand, and that is what building relationships is all about. Many brands think that apologies are a sign of weakness, but in reality they are often a sign of strength.

1 comment for “Apology Accepted, Maybe.

  1. February 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I think that twitter is helping to remind companies that they must provide the public with product they want and services they desire. Companies too often tell US what we want and their attitude is “these are the services we provide so take it or leave it” I think twitter is going to ultimately force companies to pay attention to their customers and that is a very positive thing!

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