Reading the various articles about how companies manage their online image has been fascinating but in particular I really enjoyed this blog post from a senior librarian at the National University of Singapore. The level of proactiveness he takes in responding to complaints from the library’s patrons is amazing and is a great example of how a group can use social media to turn complaints and negative press into something beneficial to the group. They had patrons tweeting about various problems, were able to resolve the problem, contact the patron and end up with the patron praising the library in actually listening to their concerns.
I think what is key when dealing with negative things being written about your company online is to keep in mind that it is almost impossible to take back anything you say. So in a majority of situations don’t return with a nasty comment. If there is a valid complaint or a negative comment that can be counteracted with helpful information then that should be included in a polite response. If the comments are just downright outrageous and has no reasonable response it’s usually best to ignore the comment or just respond with a “thank you for your comment” statement. Like I mentioned above responding in a constructive manner can actually work to a company’s advantage if you are able to resolve someone’s issue and turn that person into a promoter of your service or product.
In my own personal experience I found this to be very true in dealing with my local library. I often was not able to find the materials I wanted and happen to comment about it on Twitter. Much to my surprise I received a tweet back with a solution to my problem and a few other tips about things I did not know about my library’s services. I was impressed with the quick response and while always a public library supporter I do try to go out of my way to promote my library on my book blog and on Twitter.