Adam Fisher
1st October 2018 - 5 mins read
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ome will be genuine complaints from customers, others may be from rivals and then, of course, there are the dreaded trolls.

I’m no stranger to online criticism, having previously managed social media accounts for public sector organisations.

People have also, on occasion, taken exception to blogs I have written in my current role, including an ITN newsreader who really didn’t take too well to something I wrote for our sister company Media First.

The key is to accept that you will face negativity at some point and focus on how best to respond.

Here’s what I have learned from my own experiences and the different ways some brands deal with negative comments. 


Keep calm

This is advice I constantly have to remind myself about.

Whenever someone criticises something I have put out, and I don’t think it is justified, my first reaction is to quickly put together a stinging instant response.

But then I think back to a training course I went on years ago where we were told not to send work emails when we were angry.

And I think the same applies here, whether you are responding to a blog comment, a Twitter post or any other form of audience interaction.

The reality is that responding emotionally when your blood is still boiling will typically make the situation much worse. And you really don’t want to get involved in some form of ongoing argument in a public domain.

It sounds obvious, but it is important to compose your thoughts, consider the criticism, and let any heat die away from the situation before responding – even on social media where speed is of the essence.


Avoid the copy and paste approach

One of my hates on social media is when a brand receives some criticism and it responds by continually copying and pasting the same couple of generic lines over and over again.

It is something I see regularly. 

When Nectar was widely criticised on social media for announcing a partnership with the Daily Mail, it stuck rigidly to pre-agreed corporate lines, which it copied and pasted relentlessly.

Here it is: “Hi (insert name), we’re sorry to hear you’re not keen on the partnership. The primary factor in any new partnership is our current customer base. From our data and research, we know that there is a large crossover between our customers and Mail readers. Hopefully, you can take part in other offers which you find more appealing. Thank you for the feedback anyway.”

It looks cold and robotic and only really serves to make the customer more frustrated. It also suggests the brand actually isn’t all that bothered about complaints from customers.

While it may feel a little risky, social media teams should be given the freedom to move away from pre-approved corporate lines when an organisation is being criticised and add a human touch to responses.

If you are facing a real social media storm and don’t feel you have the time or resources to personalise responses, it would be better to stick to regular updates rather than trying to reply to everyone with the same corporate line.


Humour

You need to tread carefully here, but humour can be a great way of turning a negative comment into something positive.

Not only can it diffuse potential issues, but it can also show a fun, lighter side to your brand.

But it is not going to be appropriate in all situations and each one needs to be judged independently.

Virgin Trains found itself in the middle of a social media storm earlier this year when it responded to a passenger complaining about being called ‘honey’ by a train manager with a poorly judged joke.  While Thameslink found itself threatened with legal action after comparing its poor service to ‘Poundland cooking chocolate’.  

My advice would be to run any humorous responses past a colleague just to check that they are actually funny, right for the audience and also tasteful before they are published.


Sometimes a private reply can be better

You are not going to keep everyone happy, even if you follow all of the above advice.

Some people will continue to post negatively, but it is important that you don’t get drawn into an ongoing conversation with them.

The best approach is to ask them to send their contact details to you through a direct message or your email address so you can arrange for someone to give them a call and discuss the issues they are experiencing.

This is something which worked well for me in previous roles and at times resulted in a dissenting voice later going on to post something positive about the organisation.

Even if they persist with their criticism, other customers will be able to see the effort you have made to try to help them.


Don’t delete

It can be tempting to delete negative comments and criticism, particularly if you feel they are unfair.

But this needs to be avoided.

Not only does it show a lack of transparency and suggest the organisation may have something to hide, but it is also likely to encourage the critic to post more negative comments.


You don’t always have to say sorry

Another one of my regular frustrations with the way brands respond to negative comments is they always apologise, even when they have nothing to be sorry for.

Take train companies for example. Any commuter will tell you that these guys have a lot to apologise for. But look at their Twitter accounts and it is one apology after another.

The website Sorry for the Inconvenience shows that rail operators have already issued more than 200,000 apologies this year alone. While many of those are completely justified, some are for really minor issues like plug sockets not working.

The huge rate of apologies only adds to the reputational damage. The key for other companies is to be selective about when to say sorry.

Sometimes a better approach is to take control of the narrative and laugh about the issue, like Joe Dough’s Sandwich shop did in this brilliant example.




Finally

The final point is that a negative reaction doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing.

I want the content I produce to cause a reaction and even a negative reaction can get other people talking.

It’s far better than talking to a completely passive audience.

 

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

 

Marketing

Podcasts: How can you tell you are getting a return on your investment and time?

James White 5th June 2020 — 4 mins read
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hat is more than double the number that was listening to them just two years ago.

We are, it seems, absorbing more and more content through our ears.

So, it is hardly surprising that increasing numbers of companies are becoming aware of the benefits and are looking to include podcasts in their communication strategies.

One of the questions we are often asked by companies looking to get involved in podcasting is how they can measure success in this area.

And that is an important question because you need to see a reward for your investment in time, effort and resources.

Let’s take a look at some of the key metrics you could use.

 

Downloads

This is the most obvious metric and will help to give you a good idea of the size of your audience.

But it is important to remember that a download does not necessarily equate to a listen – your content could remain unheard even if it is downloaded.

Additionally, a listener could download the same podcast on multiple devices.

Rather than looking at total downloads, opt for using unique downloads as this refines the numbers and removes multiple downloads from the same user.

Also, look at the number of downloads per episode. Fluctuations here will show you what content your listeners are most interested in and what they find less appealing.

 

Subscriptions

This measures the number of people that are subscribing to your podcast and who get notified when a new episode is available.

If people are opting to subscribe to your podcast, it tells you that they want to hear more from you and that they don’t want to miss an episode.

 

Social mentions

If people like the content of your podcasts, they are likely to talk about it on their social media channels.

And you will be able to use your social media listening tools to see who is discussing your podcast and what they are saying about it.

Likes, shares and retweets are all good measurements and the comments can give you a good understanding of what is resonating with your audience.

 

Backlinks

Backlinks are another good thing to monitor and show how many times another website has linked to your podcast.

In theory, the more backlinks you generate the better.

But you also need to look at the quality of those backlinks. For example, there could be a small chance a backlink may be trying to persuade people not to listen to your podcast.

 

Create a dedicated landing page

Creating a dedicated landing page for your podcast is a great idea.

It establishes a home for your podcast, it can offer incentives to encourage new listeners to sign-up and you can use it to thank your subscribers

And it can help you gauge the success of your content. You can measure the hits and engagement on the page and the number of people who go from it and subscribe to the podcast.

 

Special offers and promotions

These are a really easy way to measure the success of your podcast.

Special offers, discounts, incentives and promo codes can either be read out on air by your presenter or used in the text of your landing page.

And by promoting these deals with your podcast, you can pinpoint exactly what leads are coming from your listeners.

A good idea with these types of offers is to set a time limit for them as this may encourage your listeners to take action quickly.

 

Email marketing

Competition for listeners is pretty fierce and you need to work hard to attract and grow your audience.

Email marketing has an important role to play here and we would encourage you to use your mailing list to promote your podcast.

Not only will you increase awareness but there are useful measurements you can use as well, such as open and click rates and the numbers of unsubscribes, all of which will give you an indication of the appeal of your audio content.

 

Context

All of the figures I have mentioned will help you understand the success of your podcast.

But it is also important to have realistic goals.

For example, the more niche the subject you are talking about the harder it is likely to be to attract large numbers of listeners and, on the face of it, your unique downloads may not look that impressive.

However, a relatively small number of dedicated listeners in this instance could be a real business win and show more buying intent than a more general podcast with a bigger audience.

 

Get in touch with one of our account managers to find out how we can help you get your podcast started. You can also find out more about starting a business podcast in this recent blog.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Adam Fisher
2nd May 2018 - 6 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.