Handling negative chatter on Twitter

Short and clear report from the Wall Street Journal on how companies can and should react when they notice negative posts on Twitter, and on blogs and other social media.

Here are what I see to be the key points:

1. Respond quickly. React right away, but in your reaction focus on getting a clear understanding of the problem. Don’t try to squelch conversations or complaints; make it clear that you hear them and want to address any problems quickly.

2. Respond in the space where the complaints are. If you see complaints on Twitter, reply on Twitter. But you can also use other media and channels to flesh out your response: Use a post on your blog to give the full explanation of what’s going on and how you’re addressing it, and tweet a link to that post. If an individual is complaining and you want to address him directly, tweet an email address or phone number for him to contact you, or tweet that he can DM you a number for you to reach him. In either case, the public can see that you’re taking steps, yet you’re setting up an offline channel to get to the root of the issue.

Both of these tactics require that you be present already online, that is, that you already have a Twitter account and a blog, and use them enough to be comfortable and have an established reputation. They also assume that you monitor the web regularly for feedback and mentions of your business. Until you establish a presence online, you’re vulnerable to sudden and strong discussions happening with your input.

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