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Five Tips to Turn Social Media Mistakes Into Customer Advocacy

consumerreportWe read about how to turn happy customers into brand advocates, but what about the unhappy ones? There’s no point in investing time and effort into a brand advocacy program to motivate your current customers to speak on your behalf when you still have issues with your customer service or products that need resolving.

Of course, for any company, there is always a chance that things go wrong that are out of their control, but how they deal with them can make the difference between a marketing nightmare and a golden opportunity to treat our dissatisfied customers with respect and turn them into some of our most outspoken brand ambassadors.

The Retail Consumer Report stated in 2011 that of those consumers who received a reply in response to their negative review 33% turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. In addition, 85% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more (anywhere between 5-25% over the standard price) to ensure a superior customer experience.

It is my belief that you can turn the more vocal negative consumers into loyal customers – it is all in how you handle it. Let’s look at some examples and tips.

Many large companies such as Gatorade, Dell, the Superbowl and the Red Cross have built social media command centers to monitor perception of their brands digitally in real time, as well as following trends and conducting conversations or resolving complaints. Smart companies, small and large, also invest heavily in reputation management strategies, realizing that it only takes five minutes to ruin a reputation they have been building for years.

Tip: Even if you are a small business, make sure you spend time monitoring the digital conversations about your brand and understand the public perception. Perception = brand.

But what is more important than the technology behind those command centers, is the attitude companies take towards social media. Sometimes, things go wrong. Customers complain, staff screws up, a joke at your expense goes viral… But the way brands handle these disasters can make all the difference – while some brands’ actions make their image worse, other companies are able to turn the situation around to their advantage – and win fans and publicity off the back of it.

Tip: Always be honest, human, and authentic in addressing issues/concerns/mistakes. And most importantly, please hire and experiences community manager who knows your brand, your community, and knows how to engage your customers.

It’s all too easy to post something on the wrong account, or to post something publicly that should be in a private message, but sometimes a social media mistake can cause serious red faces all round.

The following tweet went out from the Chrysler account:


(Image and links courtesy of

Clearly, this wasn’t an official tweet – someone had posted on the wrong account but it was wrong on so many levels: the f-bomb, the disrespect to Detroit, where they are based, and the damage to their ‘Imported from Detroit’ marketing campaign and hard work they were doing in promoting their native city. But rather than apologize, they claimed their account had been ‘compromised’, which just made the error look worse. A sensitive, well-explained post on their official blog finally addressed the issue, but there’s a lesson there about admitting to human error – and about ensuring that official and personal accounts are never able to be mixed up.

Tip: Admit you are human and that you make mistakes! People want to know that brands are human and that there are real people behind those cold corporate logos.

From ill-timed posts that make light of natural disasters, to badly-judged humor, accidental postings, and hackers getting into official accounts, there’s no doubt that social media has the power to magnify mistakes and put them in front of a huge audience. Putting effective systems, properly-trained personnel, good technology and strong security in place can prevent many of these problems.

Mistakes can happen to even the most social media-savvy organizations. When, for example, the American Red Cross mistakenly tweeted this:


(Image courtesy of Mashable)

The charity resisted the temptation to panic, and instead sent a follow-up tweet acknowledging their mistake: “The Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” The tweet hit the right tone, and their use of humor and humility enabled the brewery mentioned – Dogfish Head – to turn the mishap into an opportunity to ask their followers to raise money for the American Red Cross using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd and giving a link to follow to donate. The charity’s quick-thinking actions helped to turn a marketing slip into an awareness-raising opportunity, in partnership with Dogfish Head brewery.

Tip: It’s okay to laugh at yourself. Any seemingly horrible situation can be turned into a great engagement opportunity (if executed tastefully).

zapposZappos is a master at authentic customer service. Take a look at Zappos’ Facebook page for a master class in social engagement done right. Zappos responds to customers in a human and friendly way, and even when someone has a complaint, they are able to address it – and win more love from their fans. The brand takes customer care to the next level, and addresses any issues publicly and speedily, turning customers who complain into fans of the brand.

Tip: Don’t spend a ton of money on new customer acquisition, focus on the ones that are already there. If you make the happiness of your current customer a priority, they will draw new customers in through recommendations, positive word of mouth, and true passion towards your brand.

Monitoring social media can mean you pick up on complains and mistakes quickly and take immediate action. Don’t delete or ignore negative comments: respond to them in a genuine way, and others will see that good customer service really matters to you. The right response can mean you take control of a bad situation – and win new brand ambassadors in the process.

Originally published in {grow}

Join The Conversation

  • Feb 7 Posted 3 years ago Ajay Prasad (not verified)

    Rightly said. We should not only concentrate towards our happy customers. We also need to focus on our unhappy customers. How to make them a happy customers, should also be our main concern. The post is suggesting some really good points. Great post.

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