Autumn is here!
Well Autumn is here, which means another year is winding down and we will all be doing our year end assessments very soon.

I always love the fall with its great weather and harvest time always means the best produce, but what if fall time means a fall from grace? If you are a business professional and you experience any sort of mistake or if you anger anyone at any time for any reason then you have probably experienced the flaming Yelp review or a scathing Facebook critique. All too often for most social media managers the first response is to defend yourself. I have seen people say “we were under staffed”, or “it was the holidays we were busy”, or “something doesn’t sound right, our people don’t do it that way.” But these types of responses can always make a bad situation worse and now you are in a tit for tat flame war and are put in a position of telling the customer they are wrong. You could ignore it, and often that is fine and it will just blow over, who really pays attention to that stuff anyway? However I always council engagement when it comes to social media. It is really important for your customers to see that you are involved, with the good reviews and the bad. Not just with pushing your messages out to them, but that you are also involved with the conversation. If you have something to say, say it. But social media, as it pertains to marketing and business, also requires listening and responding. When your customers are posting about how great your product or service is then you need to show that you are listening and respond. Even if just to say thank you, it is important that you take every opportunity to connect with your audience. Also I advise you social media team to look for other chances to engage. It is a full time job to trawl the internet for conversations that are related to your industry, important to your clients, or just give your company the opportunity to show a more human side. As an example, recently our region was hit by some very serious flooding as a result a much anticipated bicycle race got canceled. So what if you were a bike retailer, wouldn’t it be a great community service to tag on to all of those “thoughts and prayers” messages with some actual action? Couldn’t you say “Stop by Mike’s Bikes with your donations of clothing, gear, cleaning supplies” etc to get people that can’t be out riding in the event to come to the store and show their support for the community, give them something to do to help them feel better about everything.

Ok let’s not take such an extreme example,

How about if Mr Random Facebook Guy was comparing two new saddles for a Trek mountain bike. If I were the social media manager for Mike’s Bikes I would comment on the thread in any number of ways:

  • The “I have experience” - “I’ve been riding the ‘xyz+3’ saddle for 6 months now and I really like (always try to be positive)
  • The “friendly shopkeep” - “We carry both of those brands, why don’t you bring your bike down and you can try them in the parking lot.”
  • The “personal preference” - I’ve had the xyz+3 and it was really comfortable, but I upgraded to the +4 and I’m still breaking it in.

These types of conversations are happening everyday and the enterprising social media pro will find many creative ways to engage in the conversation if they are listening. But I started off with the “fall from grace” question so let’s get back to the bad review. What if I get that ubiquitous bad review? I know that we all want to defend ourselves, we want to show what we know and we want to justify our actions. All I can say is DON’T. Seriously, don't. I give all of my clients the same recipe for replying to a bad review, and you should always reply. The recipe is this: “I am sorry you had a bad experience, thank you for letting us know, we will try to do better in the future.” That’s it, simple. Again don’t get defensive and don’t ignore it, and always try to respond as quickly as possible. “Thank you, I'm sorry, we’ll try to do better.” Don’t say give us another chance, don’t say we were busy, nothing else, just that. So the next time you get a customer that tells you: “1 star your service sucks!!!” You go ahead and you tell them: “Thank you for your feedback, I am sorry you had a bad experience, we will try to do better next time.”

And then get on with your day.