In Praise of Detractors

My new favorite hashtag is #HugYourHaters. I discovered it while reading a terrific recap of Social Media Marketing World 2015. Coined by social media guru Jay Baer, who not coincidentally has a book coming out by the same title, #HugYourHaters is a mantra more marketers should embrace. Here's why.

  1. Online detractors are doing you a favor. There are rules in the social media space, and one of the most important is "No spamming." You can't just fill the social channel with nonstop talk about the features and benefits of your products or services. It's the online equivalent of going to a party and talking about nothing and no one but yourself. That said, if an online detractor has left a complaint or rant in a public space, you are well within your rights to leave a compelling response outlining why the original poster is mistaken or apologizing for a mistake and offering to fix it, thereby showing off your superior customer service skills and taking advantage of an opportunity to tell your story. In other words, detractors allow you to take your key messages for a public outing in a way you couldn't otherwise do without appearing like a self-absorbed boor.
  1. There is no stronger advocate than a detractor who gets turned around by some good old-fashioned TLC from a company or brand. This has been proven time and again. Jay Baer's research shows that while only 41 percent of people who complain on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites anticipate a response, when they do receive a response, they're almost twice as likely to recommend the company afterward.
  1. So find your most vocal online detractors and listen to them. Then figure out how to woo them - perhaps by fixing what's wrong and letting them know. Soon you'll have passionate ambassadors who have a compelling turnaround story to tell - one which shows you and your company in the best possible light.
  1. It's just good business. Customer experience is increasingly important, regardless of your industry - and that trend shows no sign of slowing down. According to Walker Insights' "Customers 2020" research, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Those online detractors could be tipping you off early to a larger customer experience problem. Better jump on it and fix the issue before it becomes a bigger problem than just one unhappy customer.

Are there some customers who will never be happy? Possibly. But that doesn't mean you should write off all vocal detractors. A comprehensive social listening program will help you keep on top of negative mentions of your brand or company name - and a strategic agency partner will be able to sift through those online complaints to find the most influential detractors with the problems that are easiest to fix. Tackling a few of these "low-hanging fruit" will help you prove the ROI of a larger, more far-reaching #HugYourHaters customer service program that can turn your detractors into brand ambassadors.

Can we help you get started with a social listening or online influencer outreach program today? And better yet-have you hugged your haters today?