The Art of Dealing with the the Negative

It’s still a bit of a head-scratcher but one of the biggest issues that keeps many companies hesitant about social media is the possibility that someone may say something critical, bad or negative about their brands, products or services.

There is a notion bad things will be said if a company becomes part of the conversation. In some mysterious way, their participation will spark negativity so perhaps it would be more pragmatic if they stayed out from the fray.

It’s a strange approach because regardless of whether a company is involved in social media or not, the reality is people are talking about a company’s brand, products and services. For many companies, it’s a real eye-opener when they are shown what’s being said about them on different social media services.

You would think at this stage in the game, companies would accept the fact that negative, critical or bad comments, tweets, videos or updates are part of playing within the social media sandbox. It’s not always going to be a nice, comfortable and rewarding experience. Sometimes, things don’t go your way even if it’s nothing you have done or said.

As a public medium with low barriers to entry, social media provides people with an easy way to criticize, attack, disparage, diss and batter anything and everything. There are no sacred cows or objects allowed to escape the wrath of the crowd for whatever reason.

For companies who accept this reality, the most important thing is learning how to deal with the negative. Rather than being afraid or defensive, companies have to realize there are ways to mitigate, resolve, react or, sometimes, ignore criticism. Sometimes, companies have to engage, somethings they need to fight back with the facts, and sometimes they need to let bad things flow by like like water off a duck’s back.

The truth is a small minority of people use social media as a medium to be negative, complain or attack. And in many cases, what these people are seeking is acknowledgment that what they are saying is being heard. More often not, a negative situation can quickly be turned around 180 degrees simply by listening and responding in a way that makes sense.

For more thoughts on the negative, check out Brenda Somich’s post about how to deal with negative comments on blogs.

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