Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research

social media research Do you have a plan to handle negative feedback?

Do you know how to measure your engagement?

These issues and more are faced by many social media marketers.

In this article, I’ll share research and tips to help you overcome common challenges social media marketers face.

#1: Marketers Lack Plan for Negative Comments

When it comes to dealing with negative social buzz, more than half of marketers still aren’t sure what to do.

Research published on eMarketer shows only 45% of marketers currently have an effective strategy to deal with negative social media posts; 23% don’t have any kind of plan; 25% are working on getting a plan; and 8% have a plan that doesn’t work.

emarketer strategy statistics

Remember the old saying—no one plans to fail, they fail to plan.

Dealing with negative social media posts can be time-consuming and uncomfortable, particularly if you don’t have a written policy for handling them. Rather than waiting until disgruntled customers or anonymous haters (you should be able to tell them apart!) show up, make a plan for handling those situations before they arise.

Create a comment policy and make it visible on your blog and social media profiles. Define the kind of language or comments that are unacceptable and may cause users to be blocked from your community.

Always moderate comments, but be selective about what you delete, hide or block. It’s bad form to delete a post just because you don’t like it; there are some conversations that need to take place even if they’re not pleasant. Sometimes you should let people vent, especially if they have a valid reason.

Ignore trolls to the best of your ability, but always respond to all others, all of the time. If an issue escalates, ask to connect with the commenter privately so you can resolve the issue.

It’s important to create an open and respectful space where customer feedback is valued and sincere conversations can take place (even when they’re unpleasant). That’s easier to do when you have a plan in place.

#2: Marketers Don’t Understand Facebook Ad Options

There’s a difference between Facebook desktop ads and Facebook mobile ads.

According to research from Socialbakers, when asked to rate the types of Facebook ads they found most effective, marketers were unable to distinguish between desktop news feed ads, mobile news feed ads and desktop plus mobile news feed ads.

In short, marketers have yet to figure out the advantages of crafting mobile-specific content and calls to action.

socialbakers ad placement statistics

Marketers’ feedback for three very different types of Facebook ads was almost identical.

Reaching consumers across many devices—whether desktop or mobile—is crucial to social marketing success.

So what’s the difference between Facebook desktop ads and Facebook mobile ads?

If your primary goal is to target a huge audience (reach), then desktop ads are your best bet.

If your primary goal is to ramp up engagement with more likes, comments and shares, then allocate a bigger budget for Facebook mobile ads. Facebook’s free Power Editor can help you set up mobile-only ads.

istock facebook likes image

For more likes, comments and shares, focus on Facebook mobile ads. Image: iStockPhoto.

There are now 1 billion people accessing Facebook from their mobile devices. Because of this huge shift to Facebook mobile, it’s worth your time to learn about and invest in mobile ads as part of your overall Facebook marketing strategy.

From a user’s perspective, Facebook mobile ads tend to feel more personable, unlike desktop ads, which feel like they’ve been mass-produced for a large population. So if you’re a small business trying to build trust and relationships, Facebook mobile ads are a good choice.

Keep in mind that Facebook mobile ads have higher click-through rates and they cost less, but they have limited ad options and the environment is not as feature-rich as desktop ads. For these reasons, consider managing your desktop and mobile ad campaigns separately.

#3: Marketers Struggle Managing and Measuring Online Engagement

The eMarketer report also found that while 86.2% of marketing executives say online engagement is a priority for their brands, only 45.8% of them are actually able to manage it.

Four in 10 believe engagement is important, but don’t manage it; and 13.8% don’t believe engagement is important at all!

Among those who measured engagement, 85.7% cited interaction rates as the most important metric, followed closely by reaching influencers (82.9%). Yet less than 42% said their brands were able to quantify engagement.

emarketer poor engagement statistics

A variety of metrics are used to measure engagement.

It’s scary to think that 58% of marketing executives (i.e., decision makers who give overall marketing direction) can’t quantify engagement. It’s not enough to understand the importance of measuring social media, you need to actually do it!

One big mistake many brands make is focusing on acquiring large audiences. While it’s great to have a large audience, it doesn’t do any good if that audience isn’t listening to you. You have to hold their interest in order to influence their buying decisions (and measure those actions).

Instead of worrying about accumulating fans, focus on trying to get the fans you already have to interact with your content. Use these tips to ramp up engagement and make it a priority to understand and measure your brand’s effectiveness.

istock measurement image

Want to know if your brand is effectively engaging your audience? Measure it! Image: iStockPhoto.

If you’re trying to engage with influencers, get an approved target list and measure your influencer outreach activities based on number of emails written, calls made, meetings scheduled, demos presented, etc.

Watch and measure the number of brand mentions in blogs or feature articles originated by the influencer and measure your website traffic generated by those mentions. Finally, measure sales leads or actual sales generated from influencer mentions.

Quick Wrap Up

Tackling social media marketing challenges is something most brands have trouble with at one point or another. Don’t be like the 40% of marketing executives who understand the problem, but aren’t doing anything about it. Implement the advice in this article to solve problems before they arise and improve your overall social marketing tactics.

What do you think? Did you find this research helpful? Do you have advice on managing social ads, negative feedback or measuring engagement? Tell us in the comments.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • Daniela Maldonado

    It is true that negative social buzz is sometimes hard to handle, most brands are not prepared for the vast amount of responses that this type of buzz can generate. Although brands may have a great overall social media strategy, without control over the negative comments it is pointless – users will naturally gravitate towards negative comments.

  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    I especially appreciate the tips on how to deal with negative feedback. With reviews becoming more and more relevant in the process of making a decision, a company really has to focus on creating a strategy how to deal with both positive and negative reviews.

  • http://www.pinprofitpro.com/blog Creative Business Coach

    Really informative article, and that research is very interesting. I think the most important point is measuring results. Without knowing what has worked and what hasn’t – and feeding those results back into future campaigns – a marketer’s efforts can’t be fully effective.

  • predsicker

    I agree completely. Marketers should ‘let the data show them what to do’ in the sense that data/analytics provide a solid understanding of what’s working and what’s not (for future campaigns). So, thanks for your input and for reading my article :)

  • predsicker

    Thank you for reading. I’m so glad the tips about dealing with negative feedback are helpful!

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Daniela. Of course most users are respectful and provide useful feedback (even when it’s negative) for brands to act upon. But you’re right in that knowing how to deal with those few bad apples is important for keeping the community focused.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Even the most impolite negative feedback from a customer should be looked upon as an opportunity to improve your customer service, rectify any problems in your marketing, improve your product and even change your business model. Negative customer feedback is like free business consulting, if you adopt the correct attitude to researching its source and dealing directly with the problem.

  • http://www.7eyetechnologies.com Kristina Roy

    Hi Patricia Redsicker,
    You really shared good post about eMarkete. You shared some good points about eMarkete that were difficult to discuss. It helped me to increase my knowledge about eMarkete. Your post is really nice and helpful to everyone. Thank to share such useful information with us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanillaeshot Beth Rolda

    Honesty is STILL the best policy. We must be definite of the status of the product and services we offer. WE must also be ready and be sure to establish whether the negative comments or complaints are legitimate or not.

  • Adam Maddox

    I would say that marketers are ready for negative feedback, becuase I am sure they face it all the time. There are always going to be consumers out there that are unhappy with certain products and those are the people that call in complaints and give negative feedback on those items, but that’s how you learn and make the necessary changes to fix the problems in hopes of return business from those consumers.

  • http://www.likebulbs.com/ Eugene Than

    We know there are still brands who delete negative comments on Facebook which I think is not the right way. What’s your view? Is this common in the US market?

  • Kiran Janjua

    Companies do expect the positive feedback whenever they advertise something new. However, they should be prepared about the negative feedback. Resolving negative feedback can get them on track again.

  • predsicker

    “Negative customer feedback is like free business consulting” ~ excellent point Barbara. It may be tough to hear but it can help your brand to become leaner, faster, stronger. Thanks for reading :)

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Kristina.

  • predsicker

    True – legitimate complaints should always be heard and acted upon. It’s always good to have a few of those to keep businesses from getting fat and lazy ;) Thanks for reading Beth.

  • predsicker

    You’re right Adam, they do face it all the time. I just meant that they don’t have a solid plan to tackle it effectively. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • predsicker

    It depends on the organization Eugene. Generally it’s not common practice to delete negative comments because marketers in the U.S. are becoming more savvy and understand the futility of doing that. However, there are times when deleting comments is justified e.g. when sensitive information is leaked out, or when abusive language is used. That’s why it’s important to post your social media policy on your FB/Community Page so that people understand what will get their comments deleted. Thanks so much for reading!

  • predsicker

    Absolutely right Kiran. Thanks for your input :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanillaeshot Beth Rolda

    And besides, I’d rather focus MORE in improving our products and services, alongside of course, possible gray areas.

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    Anyone who is dealing or serving the public has to develop a very good attitude in dealing with negative feedback, as people can sometimes give feedback not based on facts but on their feelings. It is up to the brand owner to respond in a very respectful way without compromising the truth

  • http://www.likebulbs.com/ Eugene Than

    I have to agree with you, thanks for sharing.







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