Caught in the Web  

Haters gonna hate

How do business owners control the sentiment about their companies on the web?

The web is a fickle place; and social media channels can breed some unsavoury characters with biiiiiig opinions. Behind each keyboard sits a bionic human - 6’5” tall, broad-chested, fearless. Right? Because, in real life, who the heck else has the gall to be that publicly rude without having the stature to back it up?

While there are random acts of positivity that can rub off on your business in an encouraging way online, it’s not the typical tale we hear from our clients. More often, we are being asked for input on how to deal with the nasty, heated, mean-spirited and (at times) outright untrue comments being spewed online by consumers and visitors (that have become very brave from the comfort of their living rooms I might add). 

It boils down to three simple options when deciding how to deal with grotty comments. Ignore, Reply or Remove. Each comes with its own risk. Think of it like a flow chart. Your screen lights up, you’ve received a notification on your corporate account letting you know that out there in the "webesphere", a less than favorable comment has been made about your business. How do you decide which path to take to mitigate the situation?

The first step is to assess the nature of the comment. Is it an aimless rant, a disgruntled customer, an ex-employee? Is their value in the comment? Is it justified? If the comment holds some truth and seems to have stemmed from a legitimate source, removing it is most likely not the best option. You’re down to ignore or reply. Deleting is risky and makes you appear on the run. Delete with caution, and only if you are certain you are dealing with a bold faced lie.  

The next step is to get the facts. Ask your team if they have feedback on the situation, and do a quick web search to see if other users have the same negative sentiment. If it seems to be isolated, it may be best to take the complaint off-line and address it one-on-one with the user. A noble approach to get the contact information from the complainant is to simply reply with a, “Hey, we’re sorry to hear you’ve had a negative experience with Company XYZ. Our customer service line is 555.123.4567, please give us a call to talk it over.” This can be a canned response that you can copy and paste at any time to stomp a quick fire – this is the equivalent of an “ignore”. Be casual and light, and it will pay off.

If the negative feedback appears to be a pattern online, it’s time to pull up your socks and make a public reply. I know, I know, it sounds like a horrible task to take on. But you know what, it really helps! It makes your company human. We all make mistakes – admit to yours and grab the chance for redemption by letting all of your / their followers know what you’ve done to rectify the situation in this exact incident, and on the whole. More often than not, this small act of groveling can retain your customer and turn them into a lifer. Worth a shot, hey?

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About the Author

Matt Gomez is a Business Developer with Acro Media (www.acromediainc.com), a web design and online marketing company based in Kelowna, BC.

Matt helps businesses who want to leverage the web and see returns from their online investments.

He enjoys watching soccer, reading Wilbur Smith novels and eating candy. He does not enjoy cat videos … not in the slightest.

You can contact Matt by e-mail at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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