When Good Buzz Goes Bad OnlineUse the SWARM Technique
At some point, it’s going to happen. You’re going to wake up and find your pub or restaurant trending on Twitter. And not in a good way.
There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to negative comments you receive in social media. At my digital marketing agency, engageQ, we’ve perfected the right way.
The model we’ve developed is SWARM, and here are the steps.
S – Speak Like a Human
Organizations have a bad habit of communicating with people as if they were, well, organizations. They speak in grand tones of “we” and “us” — trying very hard to avoid admitting that an actual human being (“I” and “me”) wrote the text. Words like “we” and “us” serve only to distance yourself from your correspondent and, in a crisis situation, this is the last thing you want to do. Rather, you want people to identify with you and feel like you’re both “in it together”.
Speaking like a human is all about tone. Remember, these are social networks — so your tone should be social in nature.
W – Win/Win
People will complain on your hotel or restaurant’s social media channels because they want something to change — better quality service on their next visit, a cheaper rate, and so on. One way to help knock down an angry swarm is to give them something more than just a response.
So give them a “win”.
One way to help knock down an angry swarm is to give them something more than just a response.
You don’t need to overthink this. Wins can be simple — a promise to check back with them to see if something they were complaining about has improved.
A – Avoid a Public Fight
Perhaps the biggest mistake I see organizations make online is they engage in a conversation about an issue in the public channel — whether that’s a blog, Facebook Page, Twitter account, or somewhere else.
Once you identify an issue and reach out to the combatant (for lack of a better term), you should take the issue “offline”.
There are lots of ways to do this, but the simplest is to ask the person to email you the details privately.
If the issue shows up on Twitter, ask them to follow your brand account so you can direct message them your email address, then continue the conversation there.
If the issue shows up on Facebook, ask them to send you a private message to your brand page, then continue the conversation there.
If the issue shows up on your blog, ask them to send you an email, then continue the conversation there.
The biggest mistake I see organizations make online is they engage in a conversation about an issue in the public channel.
R – Right the Wrongs
You may find that in the heat of the moment, people exaggerate the issue. Suddenly, a simple dispute over what they were charged becomes, in their mind, a criminal action where they were billed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s important that you correct the record. Remember, Google has an elephant’s memory. If someone posted that your restaurant has no gluten-free options, and that’s simply not true, you need to have the accurate information attached to this post. Correcting that right on that Facebook page as a comment is critical, because if you don’t, everyone else who reads it will assume it’s true.
M – Make Friends
The final, and perhaps most important, part of the SWARM Methodology is to turn your combatants into advocates.
Once the issue is resolved, ask if you can follow up in a few months to see if things have improved. You can invite them to be part of a customer advisory board, or give them a coupon code to try a different item.
It’s simple to do — you don’t need special mailing list software or web-based bulletin boards. Just create a folder in your email program for each issue and store your new friends’ emails there!
You can read an expanded version of this article, with real-world case studies, at http://www.todmaffin.com/swarm/.
Tod Maffin is president of engageQ digital. He was a keynote speaker at SUMMIT 2017.