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What to do when Brand Negativity goes Viral

Unfortunately, brand and company “flaming” is happening with greater frequency these days.  Today’s customers are highly connected.  More to the point, they feel empowered.  

Whereas before, a “beef” with a brand meant sending a letter to company headquarters or grousing to colleagues and friends … now, with just a few tweets or comments made to an article or a YouTube post, a customer can broadcast that brand negativity to be viewed by the entire world.

And just because someone may not be famous or influential, that doesn’t mean their posts can’t have an impact.  The fact is, no one can predict exactly how certain posts “go viral” – they just do.

What are the best ways to deal with brand negativity?

Do ongoing due-diligence – It’s important to keep a pulse on what customers are saying online.  Put a monitoring system in place, see if there are negative issues bubbling to the surface, and determine how “real” they actually are.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Think like your customer – It may seem obvious, but as a business it’s easy to forget the customer’s point of view.  The key is to avoid taking actions that are (or appear to be) self-serving in response to the situation.  A misfired response can actually incite even more hostility instead of diffusing the situation.

Keep a sense of proportion – It’s natural to become concerned about each negative comment that may be made about your company or your brand.  But consider the “virality” of the situation: maybe it’s just one or two people talking about an issue. (It’s good to remember that the half-life of a tweet is about five minutes.)

Take stock … then do the right thing – Consider honestly whether the criticism is justified.  If it is, a little humility can go a long way. Responding with honesty, candor and a desire to “make the situation right” for the customer can turn lemons into lemonade.  It’s true:  Treated fairly, brand detractors can be turned into brand evangelists.


Contact Mullin/Ashley

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