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Social media marketers must deal with social media haters on a nearly daily basis. These haters can include the person who routinely trolls your brand on Twitter or Facebook, or the person who relishes the prospect of attacking your brand in public.
Rather than viewing these haters as a threat to your brand, you should view them as an opportunity. Here are three simple ways to turn your social media haters into your best customers.
#1: Be a better social listener
It’s commonplace to think of certain problems as appearing “out of nowhere.” And, indeed, some social media PR problems do appear out of the blue, usually as a result of some boneheaded move. But, often, there’s a whole pattern of behavior that has been percolating under the surface for a long time.
Take the case of United back in 2017. Sure, the company has plenty of social media haters these days, and for good reason. But it’s not like the problem of cramped, overcrowded and unpleasant air travel is a new one. If United had been listening to its customers, it would have realized that this was a major problem a long time ago. Customers don’t enjoy being nickel-and-dimed for every small luxury (anyone remember when full airline meals were free?), and sooner or later, that was bound to turn into a huge problem. By paying attention early, you can co-opt many problems before they turn into worse ones.
#2: Turn every complaint into a moment of truth for your company
It’s easy to ignore many of the haters. And there are certainly some people who seem to have a fresh new complaint every week. But here’s a novel idea – turn every complaint into a moment of truth for your company. It’s a somewhat counter-intuitive idea from Jay Baer, the author of the book “Hug Your Haters.” As Baer explains, you have to “answer every complaint, every channel, every time.” By doing so, you have the opportunity to turn a mega-hater into a mega-fan. It’s a version of the timeless adage, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
Say, for example, you’re bakery and you happen to have botched a big birthday cake order. And now that person is posting photos of your cake all over social media, and telling everyone what a terrible bakery you are. It’s easy to get defensive here, or to find some way to scrub social media of all the evidence (someone delete that tweet, NOW!). But a more effective way is to reach out to the person and offer to fix the problem. You’d be surprised at how often someone who just trashed you on social media will now sing your praises.
#3: Own the problem
Act quickly and never assume that a problem will just “blow over.” In other words, own the problem. It’s yours, and now you have to fix it. After you’ve finished making the customer happy (see #2 above), the next step is to see how your own internal policies and procedures might need to be adapted. Customers will forgive one mistake, but not a whole series of mistakes. So make sure the problem never happens again.
Someone once remarked that love and hate are opposite sides of the same coin. Thus, social media haters can also become your biggest social media fans. Just remember to “hug your haters” and accept a zero tolerance policy when it comes to mistakes. If you’ve made a mistake, own the problem and don’t just hope that it will go away by itself.