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How to Handle Negativity for Your Company or Brand

In the words of Beyonce – “Let’s get in formation.”

It’s probably no coincidence that my playlist went full tongue in cheek while editing this blog. And considering that the colleague I’m about to mention is a diehard fan, it’s suitable in more ways than one.

Negativity is part and parcel of the online world. For companies and brands with a social media presence, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll have to face it in some form. From a frustrated person unable to access your site to someone who’s in a bad mood to opinionated comments and reviews. There are many reasons that you find yourself on the receiving end of negativity.

My colleague, Pauline, wrote this blog post directed at a local organization. It detailed her experience over the last year and her reasons for not renewing her membership. Needless to say, whether intentionally or not, it stoked the fire and the responses began pouring in. Some were objective while others were steeped in emotion. The latter is a natural reaction. The former is what we strive for. Both should be vocalized with a certain level of due diligence.

As marketing managers in the digital realm, it’s natural to sometimes have that knee-jerk reaction to negativity. We want the best for our companies and brands. Seeing criticism in a public space, open to elaboration and discussion, can seem like a red flag. In some extreme cases, it is. However, more times than not, it’s an opportunity. Here are some tools you can consider in this regard:

Crisis Management Plan

As part of AC Marketing Four Pillars, Communication is an integral part of the process. Many businesses are too wrapped up in trying to control the perception of their brand by their target audience, that they ignore what is really important – the wants and needs of their customers. Having a crisis management plan that embraces this philosophy (and the above graphic) will keep you one step ahead.

The Benefit of the Doubt

It’s easy for things to get lost in translation online. Text doesn’t come attached with physical tells and is ripe for misunderstandings. Don’t let a supposedly irate message propel you to react blindly. Step back, understand your audience, and only engage when you have all the information at hand.

And Most Importantly – Don’t Panic

As I’ve written before, this is all about your audience and community. And in an always-on age, you have to be prepared to deal with a variety of emotions leveled at you from all walks of life. None of us are robots, and a little empathy goes a long way. Not to mention that creating room for constructive dialogue can lead to unexpected avenues for growth and change.

To mirror the first line of this blog – get in formation as a company and brand. Use the tools I mentioned above wisely. Approach your social media and community less defensively and more proactively. Because, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable than new perspectives, especially from those who consume your product or service.

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