With more and more northern Colorado businesses using Twitter it is becoming more and more important that companies are using Twitter to their advantage and not inadvertently hurting their reputation by using Twitter. I recently read an article giving Nine Twitter Tips for Businesses that has some great advice if you are considering Twittering about your business. In a nutshell, using Twitter to your advantage requires you to be authentic, responsive, and relevant. But even if you do everything right on Twitter there is going to be someone out there who makes a negative tweet about you or your company. In situations like this what do you do? What is the best method for damage control on Twitter?

Customer service has never been more critical than it is now that nearly everyone in the world has a blog or a Twitter feed. Every interaction between a customer has the potential to be an opportunity to get a positive tweet from your customer. Every mistake you make could get posted online as an angry rant on a disgruntled customer’s blog.

Not to long ago I made a Tweet about a company whose website was down. I knew that several of the people I follow on Twitter might have insight about the reason for the downtime and was curious what was going on. To my surprise, rather than a reply via Twitter I got a phone call from the company’s marketing company asking me to remove the tweet because they thought it made them look bad. I willingly obliged, but I think this was a lost opportunity for the company. It makes me wonder how many other northern Colorado marketing companies are giving bad advice about how to respond to negative (or perceived negative) tweets. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is some advice about how to respond…

How to respond to Negative Tweets
When it finally happens and someone tweets about your company negatively, take a deep breath and follow these five steps. You can turn this situation in your favor if you act carefully and intentionally.

1. Respond on Twitter
Don’t feel bad about responding publicly to negative tweets. If a negative tweet goes without a response you will be perceived as either ignoring the problem or too archaic to be involved with modern technology. Don’t contact the twitterer privately by phone or email. You want everyone to see that you are actively engaged online.

2. Admit the mistake
An admission of a mistake is usually not as bad as it seems, especially if the issue is relatively small. By admitting that there was a mistake you appear to be trustworthy and human. This fosters a feeling of trust with your customers. If people perceive you as trustworthy they will forgive flaws. If they perceive you as defensive and protective they will hold a grudge and remember your mistakes.

3. Apologize
A sincere apology is necessary if you hope to turn the negative tweet in your favor. Don’t make excuses. Thank the Twitterer for bringing attention to the issue.

4. Fix the problem
If the issue is something that you can make right, do it. If you can’t fix the problem offer the dissatisfied customer some type of compensation. Any gesture of good will is worth the cost because people will notice it and respect you for it.

5. Carefully promote yourself
Don’t toot your own horn, but if it is appropriate you can use your tweet to promote something new. End your tweet with something like, “and stay tuned for more improvements in the future.” Just be careful not to over do it. If you do a good enough job of addressing the problem you might not have to do anything to promote yourself. The Twitter community will promote you by making tweets about how well you handled the situation!

I suppose this 5 step list seems like a lot to do, but it could all be done in a single careful tweet. To sum it all up in under 140 characters, it would look something like this:

“@angryguy Yes, the site was down 4 improvements. Sorry 4 any inconvenience! The site is back up & you can check out the new feature at…”

I hope this helps you navigate the tricky waters of Business Twittering. If Red Rocket can help you with your social media needs don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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