My last post discussed the importance for organisations to remove their negative perceptions of social media, and instead see it as a powerful communication tool and a great source of consumer feedback. But what happens when the consumer feedback turns nasty?

Companies feeling the heat from social media are beginning to question whether the benefits of being on social media websites such as Facebook, actually outweigh the risks, or whether the perceived lack of control is too dangerous.


Retail chainstore Target is the latest company to come under fire, after a Port Macquarie primary school teacher, Ana Amini, complained the retailer was selling clothing that made young girls ‘look like tramps’. The Facebook comment attracted more than 59,000 ‘likes’ and over 30,000 comments.

This is a prime example of how the power shift between companies and consumers has led marketers to question their online presence. So why must these company’s persist?

According to experts, organisations can’t afford not to be involved in social media, especially large-scale brands such as Target. It is important to know what is being said about your brand and who is saying it, and social media provides the perfect opportunity to communicate with customers in an open environment. Those organisations avoiding social media in the hope to reduce negative criticism are forgetting that criticism exists regardless, and by not getting involved, they are choosing to ignore a huge source of feedback.

With the open, transparent nature of social media opening a door to widespread critism, it is important organisations know how to handle negative criticism from consumers. It is how they go about handling it that will define people’s perceptions of that brand or company.

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, believes approaching the situation head-on is the best way. So many brands go internal and don’t say anything on social media at all, but Zuckerberg says it’s important to make it a “collaborative approach” with people instead of shutting down or turning it into a defensive thing. ”If someone takes the time out of their day to actually go to your page and write something, even if it’s mean, they’re passionate about your brand and they are one inch away from loving you.”


So for the companies out there remaining outsiders of social media in fear of getting trumped by damaging comments, don’t be. Get involved, take precautions, and when responding to negative feedback, always use a constructive approach, because sometimes it’s the haters that will turn into your most passionate brand advocates.