Brands Need Strategies to Manage Complaints on Social Media

As social media continues to become an integral part of marketing strategy, bedding brands and retailers have adopted the practice as a way to better connect with consumers. A recent survey conducted by Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) uncovered, though, that while many brands are sometimes plagued by negative posts created by customers, competitors and employees, more than 50 percent don’t have a strategy in place to manage this growing problem.

According to SMMU, more than half of the brands surveyed received customer complaints via social media “occasionally”, but almost a quarter of them do not have a strategy in place to manage negative social commentary and do not have any plans to develop one. This is a risky move, considering more than a quarter of these brands reported that their reputations have been tarnished as a result of negative social media posts.

The SMMU survey found that:

• 58.2 percent of brands receive customer complaints via social media ‘occasionally.’ 10.9 percent receive them ‘somewhat often’ while 4.9 percent receive them ‘very often.’

• 26.1 percent of brands' reputations have been tarnished as a result of negative social media posts; 15.2 percent lost customers and 11.4 percent lost revenue.

• 23.4 percent of brands not only do not have a strategy in place to manage negative social commentary, but do not have plans to develop one. 24.5 percent of brands are in the process of developing a strategy and 7.6 percent have strategies in place that are currently proving to be ineffective.

smmu survey

“So many brands are buying into the ‘friending equals spending’ mentality,” said John Souza, founder of Social Media Marketing University. “They want the benefits of social media but aren’t truly aware of the investment of effort that’s required to see a return. As a result, this lack of effort rarely produces desired results and can lead to alienation of customers, fans and followers. It can even escalate to a backlash of negativity.”

Recent surveys reported in news media found that customers expect a response to a complaint posted on a brand’s social media account within one hour. The SMMU survey found that only 17.6 percent of brands strive to meet this expectation. Most brands (52.2 percent) respond within 24 hours. An alarming 21.4 percent rarely or never respond to customer complaints in social media. These findings illustrate a widening gap between customer expectations in social media and brands' social practice.

The session will include step-by-step instruction on how to manage negative commentary in social media, and provide several strategies that brands can put in place immediately after the training is completed.

“99 percent of the things brands are doing wrong in social media are fixable,” said Souza. “Our goal is to give brands the training and resources they need to not just identify the problem, but implement the solution.”

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About Social Media Marketing University: Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) is a trusted social media training program. Courses are taught by some of the world’s foremost authorities on social media and online marketing best practices, and the social media class curriculum includes interactive sessions and instruction on social media strategy, platforms and tools. The program currently boasts nearly 3,000 graduates, and more than 65,000 business owners and business professionals have attended SMMU’s social media webinars.

Survey Methodology: The survey was conducted Feb. 10 - 13. The survey was distributed via Survey Gizmo to the SMMU database of marketers, social media strategists, C-Level executives and entrepreneurs. There were 1,036 respondents.