How to Turn Social Media Annoyance into Opportunity

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With the increased social reach that social media provides companies, customers and other businesses have tools that enable them to talk back to brands and businesses. While sometimes the feedback can be helpful, there are plenty of situations where the actions of a customer or business on social media will only cause annoyance and aggravation for brands.

Anum Hussain of HubSpot describes the dilemma presented by social media platforms, “The more your social media reach grows, the more those inquiries and comments flood in. And while some of the communications are nice and helpful, some are, well, decidedly not.”

Social media can eat up a lot of time when all of the requests and comments come flooding into your inbox. Scott Spanbauer writes at PC World, “To reply or act on any of these [social media] events, I’ll have to bring up one of the 12 social networks I’ve been sucked into joining, log in… All of that, of course, necessitates a lot of extra clicks and keystrokes.” Even if your only job is to manage your company’s online social networks, it’s easy to waste your time with comments and messages that will not add any value your company.

Here are some tips on how to handle common social media annoyances and how to turn them into opportunities for your company.

Misuse of Comments on a Facebook Page

Sometimes a customer will try to dominate the comments at your company’s Facebook page. This could be linked to a problem with a product that you need to address or it could be linked to a desire to promote his/her own products or to find a job. The latter situation can be handled best by ignoring that commenter, and only acknowledging him/her when a comment contributes to the conversation at your page.

Sometimes an angry comment is based on a legitimate concern, such as the furor over Groupon’s Super Bowl ad, and you should be grateful for that kind of feedback because at least people care about your brand. However, once you’ve created a comment form or a feedback channel, you’ll receive all kinds of complaints and responses from customers and potential customers. This is where griping can drain your energy and ability to interact with your other customers.

Make sure you’ve addressed all legitimate complaints and concerns. When dealing with customers who just want to gripe, don’t engage them beyond a courteous note that you’re sorry they feel that way. If you can offer a link to a page on your company’s website, you can at least capitalize on the opportunity to increase customer awareness and understanding about your brand.

Off-Topic  and Careless Comments

Comments that don’t add anything of value or misunderstand your message can be frustrating, but they also provide an opportunity to show courtesy. In addition, you don’t know if the commenter is simply having a rough day. Maybe he’s been up all night with his wife and a newborn baby? A little patience on your part may endear them to your brand.

If the comment is a result of misreading your post, Anum Hussain at HubSpot suggests, “thank them for taking the time to share whatever they said, and then sweetly point out that you did actually talk about or include their point. If you didn’t include it, thank them for bringing it up and tell them you’ll check it out and perhaps use it in your next analysis.”

Follow Back Demands on Twitter

Your follower base on Twitter should be targeted at people who are interested in your products and services. Anyone trying to generate a huge list of followers is not an asset for you and your company.

Robert Caruso of Bundle Post writes, “Why would anyone doing social media marketing want followers to follow them just because? … Followers and fans should be made up of a highly targeted community that you can provide value to and are most likely your prospective customers.”

By restricting who you follow back to those relevant to your brand, you’ll keep your Twitter list manageable and will ensure that you can engage with customers who are most interested in your brand. Discipline in this area will pay off in the long run with greater focus in your marketing efforts.

Demands for Immediate Responses

Whether you receive a reply on Twitter, a comment on Facebook, or a new follower on Pinterest, it’s not always possible respond to customers in the timeframe they expect. While you should never put off responding to a customer when its within your power to do so, you’ll inevitably receive demands for immediate responses you can’t provide.  It’s important to establish what is urgent and what is normal, even if your customers disagree.

Greg Finn writes at Search Engine Land, “If I wrote this entire post in bold, no words would stand out. The same is true with social media; if you say that something is important, it better well be.” Treating every annoyed user like a crisis will wear you out and will also affirm the belief that every complaint is a major crisis. These demands for immediate responses provide the perfect opportunity to develop guidelines and boundaries for online engagement.

Direct Message Spam

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Automated Direct Messages are extremely unpopular among many Twitter users. Whether or not you send them yourself, receiving them can eat up a lot of time if you try to keep up a high level of engagement on Twitter.

In order to keep your work e-mail account less cluttered, create a separate e-mail account for your Twitter account in order to receive direct messages there. As a general rule, ignore all automated direct messages. Though you could unfollow these users, chances are this will be the last time you hear from them anyway.

It may be better to at least ensure you don’t add these users to any lists that you interact with frequently (Tweetdeck and Hootsuite both offer the ability to sort Twitter followers into lists for easier management). If a Twitter user is already using an automated service, you’ve got a pretty good clue that there won’t be much personal interaction in the future.

Social media sites can be a source of stress and aggravation if you don’t create solid boundaries and policies for all of the tough situations that will come your way. If you resolve to always be courteous, to ignore interactions that won’t bring value, and to use difficult comments and tweets as a chance to strengthen your brand, even the annoyances of social media can help improve your online networking and marketing effectiveness

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that specializes in a to do list app for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a psd to html conversion company.

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