Let’s face it, you can’t make all of your customers happy 100% of the time. This will inevitably lead to negative press, which is usually found online. Bad online press can be even worse as the potential pool of people that can see it is much greater.
Your online presence is vital to the success of your brand so you need to take bad press very seriously as it could really tarnish your business. It is important that you get the word out there about your business, and SEO is one of the great ways, but if people don’t like what you are doing or saying, there’s an issue.
There are plenty of examples out there where a brand has missed the mark in something they said online, and it can certainly have major backlashes. So, make sure you try not to post anything that would have negative consequences.
While you can’t always avoid bad press, if someone has a bone to pick with you, they are probably going to do it regardless. But, there are certainly actions that you can take when building your online presence to attempt to limit the bad press your business may receive online.
It is also important to note that if you receive bad press, you should have an action plan on how to deal with it. Generally, it is not a good idea to ignore it. If necessary, you should take responsibility for what you did and even apologise for upsetting anyone.
At the end of the day, people are entitled to their own opinion and, thanks to social media marketing especially; they can blast what they are saying right around the world. It can also pick up the attention of a lot of different people.
So, you need to be careful in maintaining your online presence, it takes years to build and seconds to be destroyed. You need to have a plan in place in case things go wrong, to effectively mitigate the bad press you will receive.
Have a read on below at some of the best ways you can avoid bad press:
Do Not Retaliate
It is simple to say now, but in the heat of the moment things can get ugly pretty quickly. This is especially the case if the person or people are saying negative things about your brand that just isn’t true. However, retaliation is never a good option, you are very likely to just make things worse.
If people are just simply angry for no reason, then in this case it’s probably best to just let it go and not to get involved. Sometimes things can even get personal and people online could move from attacking your brand to you personally. This still doesn’t mean that you should retaliate.
It is important to try to take the high road. If you stoop to their level, especially on a public forum like social media, then your comments are available for the world to see.
Also, if you engage with them, they are probably going to keep replying which can often lead to a negative downwards spiral that is certainly not good for your brand. It can definitely lead to a lot more problems for your brand down the line.
Replying to comments can also prolong the issue. Usually, if the person or people leaving those negative comments aren’t given any reply, they will move on to the next thing pretty quickly.
But it’s when you engage with them, that’s what will keep them coming back for more. It can certainly be hard to not engage when you and your business are being attacked online, but it is certainly the best option.
Avoid Sensitive and Controversial Issues
If you post about sensitive and controversial issues, you are just opening the door and letting the potential of bad press in. Sometimes the situation calls for it, for example the Black Lives Matter movement is prevalent in the press at the moment, and you’ll see a lot of businesses posting about it.
But still here you have to be careful, as some brands have been slammed online for their response, with the common cause people are saying is that the brand is out of touch. Sometimes the issue is too big and important not to make a comment, but the way you go about it has to be well thought out.
The general rule however, is to try to avoid particularly sensitive and controversial topics. Topics that are usually good to avoid include religion, racism, sexuality, abuse, politics, etc. These can lead your brand down the rabbit hole of negativity.
But that being said, sometimes it is important that you show the world that your brand cares about these issues. So, if you can find a positive way to post about these issues, and you have really thought about it then you should get the opinion of others before posting it live.
In this day and age it is certainly impossible to please everyone and even the most neutral of topics can still offend people. You have to remember that it tends to be a hypersensitive society we live in, and people can get offended and enraged a lot easier.
Conduct Proper Research
If you are going to post something online, it is important that you have researched it and you know what you are talking about. It’s okay to be funny, sarcastic and witty online, you just have to do it in a light kind of way. You also need to know your audience and target market.
The younger generation tends to enjoy and appreciate that kind of witty, sarcastic humour. So, if they are your target market, you should certainly consider ways to include that in your branding. There are a lot of brands out there that do this very well, so have a look online for examples.
Yes, sometimes they do miss the mark, but if you are going down the humour path, not everyone is going to find you funny. This is why research is important, you can see what other brands have done and how successful it was, then take the best parts and put your own individual spin on it.
Being creative and fun can certainly lead to a higher engagement level with your brand. It can also help with brand recognition and people can associate your brand with humour and fun. But, to make sure you don’t take it that one step too far, research is very important.
Fast Response Time
If someone that is posting something negative and they have a genuine case, and aren’t being negative for the sake of it, or being negative to get a reaction, then it is important that you respond to the comments. As was touched on in the introduction, you can’t please everyone.
So, you are bound see a genuine negative comment come up here and there. A lot of potential customers will check the type of experience others have had with your brand before making a purchase decision.
Therefore, it is vital that you address any negative comments as quickly as possible, while also showing that you genuinely care about resolving the issue. Customers are pretty savvy and smart; they can usually tell when a person leaving a review or negative comment is being unkind just of the sake of it.
It is still a good idea to publicly reply. You should also explain the situation from your side of the story and ask for details to take this matter more private. Your goal to replying to these negative comments is to try to resolve the issue and show other potential customers that you truly care about providing a positive experience.
Don’t Make Unrealistic Promises
You will probably see it time and time again by businesses making promises they can’t keep, and nothing annoys a customer more then a promise that isn’t kept. And you know what annoyed customers do? They post about it online, and if enough of them do it has the potential to completely damage your brand.
Promises brands make can come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you have a think about what you are going to promise customers and if you really have the ability to follow up and commit to that promise. Remember the saying, “under promise, over deliver”!
You may have posted something on social media saying whoever likes, comments, tags people, shares the post gets a free [whatever your business offers]. If this post goes viral and you have a heap of people engaged, are you able to keep up with the demand and deliver every single person the thing that you promised them?
Make sure your promises are realistic and you can actually deliver on them. That way you are limiting yourself to the amount of negative press for your brand and not simply opening the door and letting the bad press take a seat.
Think about it in terms of SEO, you wouldn’t trust an SEO Sydney agency who can promise they can get you to the first page of Google. No one can offer these types of promises, because no one knows for sure what is included in Google’s algorithm.
Take The Blame
As briefly touched on before, if you find that the issue presented by the negative press is actually the fault of your brand, then you should take the blame and accept responsibility. You should never be afraid to apologise to customers, and you certainly should, so long as it is genuine.
If an issue arises, you need to be transparent and open with your customer and put together a realistic action plan that can help address and resolve this issue. Sometimes things do happen that are out of your control, but at the end of the day the customer is still upset and you what them (and others) to know that you care about them and want to help.
Bad press is pretty much unavoidable, but there are certainly a number of different things you can do to try to mitigate the impact and amount of bad press your brand receives. These days, your online presence is very important and one little slip up has the ability to be majorly amplified on the internet or social media.
So, it is important that you really think about what you are going to say before you say it. Also remember that some people just have a bone to pick with you and/ or your brand, so if they aren’t genuine customers with genuine issues, it is probably best to avoid them.
You should also try to steer clear of sensitive topics, if possible, as people can get easily offended and it opens the door for a whole heap of negativity. Don’t be afraid to use humor and be witty or sarcastic, if the moment and target audience is right.
We are a friendly and reliable team that pays detailed attention to your projects and management of your brand. Our team at SEO Shark has a passion for all things online. We constantly innovate using the latest professional techniques and strategies.