How social listening can save the day and your reputation

How social listening can save the day and your reputation

Listening Social media buzz is terrific, except when it isn’t. A single complaint from a customer posted to Facebook or Twitter can trigger an avalanche of support and “me too’s” from customers who have been harboring a similar grudge.

When an issue blows up on social media, it’s a good indication that you have a real problem with a product or service. And now you have a second problem – a reputation beating.

Hallmark’s social media manager Camille Lauer recently shared a story about how an adorable, holiday puppy toy landed her 105-year-old company in deep trouble.

Jingle, the interactive puppy, was a huge sales success. But soon after, more than 1,000 toys stopped barking which led to unhappy kiddies and even unhappier parents. Customers asked for a refund and were told to go to their local Hallmark store for satisfaction. But Hallmark stores are independently owned and operated so store owners weren’t keen on making the parent company’s problem right.

Naturally, about 50 upset and vocal customers let out their frustration in social media: 2.5 star reviews on the first page of Google results, 20 scathing reviews on Amazon, crying kids in YouTube videos, and Facebook rants.

“Everyone said they expected more from Hallmark,” Camille explains, “and they were right.”

As reported by, Camille used those online complaints to leverage two types of change from inside the company; improvements to similar products (to avoid the situation in the future) and full replacements with a newer product for customers.

Done and dusted, right? Product fixed. Customers are happy. Crisis averted.

Not so.

Social media leaves a trail and satisfied customers rarely, if ever go back and remove the negative feedback they’ve left on Amazon or the crying child video from YouTube. The new customer who searches for Jingle will still see those negative comments. This is why it’s important to make your positive response as public as possible. Leave a comment or post a public reply with an apology and a recap of the solution. If you’re lucky, the original customer will be notified of your response and will add their own high praise to the thread.

Social media isn’t a loud speaker, it’s a conversation. You have to listen as often or more often than you speak if you want to keep your company’s fine reputation intact.

Here are some tips to help you refine your talent for social listening:

1. Use a tool like Trackur to monitor what’s being said about you on social media.

2. Identify the ringleaders. Don’t try to respond to 150 different comments on a Facebook thread. Find the power behind the push and work with them to make it right for everyone.

4. Can the canned responses. A cut and paste “please call customer service” reply to an unhappy customer will make things worse.

5. Routinely forward social media mentions (good and bad) to department heads so everyone in the company understands the ramifications of their efforts.