There’s no longer a question as to whether brands have to keep updating their social media profiles regularly if they want stay in the race (and when I say race, I mean the human race. If you’re not on Facebook  can you actually say you exist?). And a lot of uploading and tweeting they do. But there’s one thing many companies are forgetting – social media is not a marketing platform. It’s there to enable a dialogue which, if we were to create a venn diagram with the wishes/needs of brands vs. consumers, is suppose to make the overlapping section larger. Having a communication channel that can get to a vast number of people and through which many can reach you is a powerful tool. Still, it isn’t being used to its full potential. Often it looks more like monologues are being held instead of dialogues, which is especially noticeable when we look into how negative feedback from consumers is being handled.

Research conducted by Maritz and Evolve24 from 2011 found that, of 1,298 Twitter complainants, only 29% received a response. That means that a whole 71% of followers who like a brand enough to willingly receive tweets from said brand on a regular basis and who decided to shout out about something they didn’t like, got completely ignored. That doesn’t sound like a good way to handle business.

But what is the right way to handle it then?  Delete the complaint?  Honestly, that doesn’t sound to smart either. If the unhappy customer found one channel through which to show his dissatisfaction, you can be sure he’ll find another. And going around deleting all negative comments just proves that instead of trying to solve a problem, it’s being shoved under the rug.

That leaves option no. 3- responding. This is apparently the right way to go, since the same study by evolve 24 shows that a whole 83% who got a response either loved or liked the fact that they did. So by acknowledging the disgruntled user, showing him or her that what they have to say matters and isn`t going to be left dwindling in the cyber ether, the unsatisfied customer can come to be a very happy and loyal one.

Even though we can conclude that responding is good practice, there`s still a lot of space to discuss how it should be handled. One thing that should always be kept in mind, rule numero uno, is that the customer is always right. Always. Even when it seems highly unlikely, or plainly obviously that they are not. We can all take a lesson from the masters of the video response, Bodyform. If you get nothing from this article other than the fact that the marketing team at Bodyform is bloody brilliant (no pun intended), my job here is done.  Check out their response to an online complaint from boyfriend of a customer, Richard:

Well done to McD’s for making a fascinating video on why their burgers look so much better on the billboards than on the plastic tray. I always thought it was pure Photoshop, but they bought me with the food stylist and his ketchup filled syringe, they really did.