Brands Ignore Negative Social Buzz at Their Peril

Monitoring tools help companies track and follow up on what consumers are saying on social

eMarketer notes: With more social networkers every day, and brands increasing their presence on social media, the consumer-brand dynamic was bound to get tricky.

“In a world of social sites that allow consumers to post photos, videos and opinions about companies and brands, disparaging comments and other content detrimental to brands are bound to bubble up,” said a new eMarketer report “Dealing with Negative Buzz on Social Media.” “And that content can stay online forever.”

In February, American Express found that 46% of US internet users it surveyed had turned to companies’ social media sites to vent their frustrations about poor experiences.

Top 5 Reasons US Internet Users Use Social Media for Customer Service, Feb 2012 (% of respondents)

“This buildup of negative buzz on social media can have a significant impact on brands because social media is more public and moves faster than customer complaints via traditional channels,” said eMarketer.

Moreover, companies now have accounts and brand pages on so many different social networks that it is hard to keep up. “Having a plan in place for dealing specifically with negative buzz and then constantly monitoring, tracking and responding to comments on social media are two important ways to deal with negative situations on social media,” said eMarketer. But implementing these precautions requires integration between teams within a company, expanded thinking about what words and issues to track, and, in some cases, tasking outside companies and vendors to provide monitoring services.

According to Satmetrix, a customer service software provider, only 49% of companies it surveyed worldwide in January 2012 tracked and followed up on customer feedback on social media, while 28% did neither.

Companies Worldwide that Use Social Media to Track What Customers Say About Their Brand and Follow Up on Customer Feedback, by Business Model, Jan 2012 (% of respondents)

A growing number of products and services are available for marketers, and these evolving tools help companies monitor more keywords and issues, more accurately track sentiment, spot negative situations earlier in the process and determine who is behind the buzz.

However, as Rebecca Davis, executive vice president and group head at Social@Ogilvy, pointed out, even though the tools are evolving, “There is not a lot of substitute for knowing the channels and interacting with the consumers.”


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