Navigating Social: When Should Brands Fight Back?

Any time a brand makes a major move – whether it’s an acquisition, a new service, changing or pulling an existing product off the market – it’s safe to say there will be skeptics. But what do you do when people with their own agendas bombard your Facebook page, berate your brand with tweets, or […]

Any time a brand makes a major move – whether it’s an acquisition, a new service, changing or pulling an existing product off the market – it’s safe to say there will be skeptics. But what do you do when people with their own agendas bombard your Facebook page, berate your brand with tweets, or […]

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Any time a brand makes a major move – whether it’s an acquisition, a new service, changing or pulling an existing product off the market – it’s safe to say there will be skeptics. But what do you do when people with their own agendas bombard your Facebook page, berate your brand with tweets, or look to other social channels with emotion-fueled criticism, and ignore or respond even more negatively to your responses?

Move the Conversation Offline

When Cisco acquired TANDBERG, a handful of people hijacked the networking giant’s Facebook page with negative posts about how Cisco was doing the industry a disservice, acting like a monopoly, and much more. These posts used offensive language and were made in response to every post Cisco made on its page.

Needless to say responding to these people on Facebook didn’t solve the problem. Instead, Cisco researched the individuals making the posts, found their LinkedIn profiles containing their companies and positions, and called the people directly. These people changed their tune once they realized Cisco legitimately heard and cared about their thoughts.

Don’t Respond

Although 99 percent of the time we counsel our clients to avoid using “no comment” when media or influencers contact them (even when it’s a dicey subject); however, there are times where it’s best not to respond. Brands shouldn’t ignore customer complaints and responding in the right way can change attitudes. That said this isn’t ALWAYS the case.

Let’s take Facebook as an example. One area the company has vastly been under criticism about is child safety. In March, it was reported that a child pornography video was posted on the site. Facebook promptly removed the video and took the appropriate steps, including issuing a statement and encouraging people to report inappropriate content posted on the social network.

People understandably were vocal about being infuriated and disgusted, and many spoke out against Facebook. However, a response from the social network to a tweet wouldn’t remedy the situation or shift a decision to no longer be on Facebook because of this issue (i.e. @TriggaTriggaa “I’m done with Facebook dude…I can’t even describe how I feel right now”). Rather than adding fuel to the fire, Facebook chose to let this conversation go, and relied on sharing its statement with the public.

While hopefully most of us won’t have to deal with backlash as extreme as what Facebook received in this instance, it’s likely we’ll come across people extremely passionate about something negative. And despite the technology examples of Cisco and Facebook, this spans industries – with some such as public affairs, healthcare and activist groups lending themselves to enraged commentary from people opposed to their views.

Just remember, your response as a communications and marketing consultant depends on the situation.

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