reputationWe all dread hearing that negative sentiment online, but there is no sense in turning our back to it. As event planners, it’s always important to manage your reputation online. Conversations about your brand, whether positive or negative, are happening whether we want them to or not. Even so, you can still do everything right in social media for events and still get it wrong in the eyes of some people. Responding early and often to negative social media comments can help you get out in front of any potential issues before they turn into a problem. Here are some steps that will help you keep the peace in social media:

1. Understand the context

Try to avoid making assumptions. Get all of your facts together first. Re-read the post and try to fully understand what the complainant is trying to convey. Determine if the post is related to an actual problem or if it’s just a negative message about your brand.

2. Determine the source

Find out where the negativity came from, and find out who the person is in relationship to your company/event. Are they a frustrated attendee? A disgruntled employee? An abusive account? Find out where the post was made and if that includes any other platforms.

3. Provide a timely first response

The time you take to respond initially is perhaps more critical than the response itself. The faster you can respond, the better. Be sincere, honest, and empathetic, but don’t get defensive. A 1-2 hour response time is ideal that at least lets them know that you are looking into it. This way, you can buy yourself some more time to research. For general comments, don’t wait more than 24-48 hours to respond.

*Example initial response: “Thanks for pointing this out to us. I’m not able to answer your question, but I’m going to find out who can, and I’ll get right back to you.”

4. Monitor the conversation

During your events, most of you already have a social monitoring team in place. Keep a close watch on your communities closely and beware of negative pile-ons, because misery loves company. So keep an eye out for any associated negativity as it can tend to build up quickly if not managed.

*A great tool for this is SocialMention.

5. Post additional responses

If an issue arises that affects a large group of customers or attendees, it’s important to keep them in the loop. Post additional responses with any new information as it becomes available. Stay honest and transparent, but don’t leave them hanging.

*Sample on-going response: “Hi Joe, we’re still looking into this, but we’ll let you know as soon as we’ve got it figured out.”

6. Close the loop

If the issue is service-related, provide your users with a solution as soon as possible and give a final response. Provide as much information as possible without compromising your company’s confidentiality.

*Example final response: “If you have any further inquiries, please feel free message me. Thank you.”

For more tips on responding to negativity in social media, take a look at this article from Entrepreneur.com: The Art of the Response on Social Media.