When Social Media Becomes Social Warfare

By January 25, 2016 Business No Comments

Social media can be used by brands to build up a fan base, create brand advocates and yes…to build business. However, when social media becomes social warfare…where do we draw the line?

Recently the fast food chain Wendy’s posted the following tweet:
wendys tweet

Pretty harmless and to the point. They have a promotion for 4 items for $4. Great! Well another fast food chain, Burger King, decided to take it to the street by posting:
burger king tweet

This was an obvious reference to Wendy’s promotion. Tweeters around the Twitterverse went crazy and started asking @wendys if they were going to take this lying down. How might they respond to Burger King’s challenge? Hungry tweeters wanted to know. This is Wendy’s response:
wendys response

Regardless of how funny this response was, is it necessary? What good came of this virtual smack down? How were the respective brands of Wendy’s & Burger King affected? I’m not sure that either brand gained much from this spat, however, I am sure that the followers were probably more interested in these tweets than the regular tweets by these fast food giants generally consisting of as many hamburger and fry emoji’s as Twitter would allow.

It does bring up the question…when is it ok to “fight back”? If your brand is being attacked in social media by a competitor or a customer some rules generally apply.
1) Acknowledge the frustration: “We are very sorry that you feel that….”
2) Diffuse: “It is not our policy to…” or “We strive to provide the best service…”
3) Invite: “If you would like to discuss this further offline please contact us. You can reach our customer service office at…..” Or “if you would like to DM us with your contact information, we will contact you to discuss this further”.

Some would say, NEVER engage in a social media fight. It does nothing for you. It doesn’t make your brand cool. It doesn’t make you stand out. It at best will give you, like in this case, 10 seconds of fame for your $4 meal.

There is one caveat…as there always is. A loophole in the rules. If you have a complaint posted that is so absolutely terrible it needs a direct and staunch response (and you can strengthen your brand at the same time), feel free. For example a bar patron posted the following at 1:51AM on New Year’s Day complaining about horrible service.

bar patron

It turns out this “drug overdose” was not as it seemed, as detailed by the restaurants manager, Chris Burton.

bar manager

As you can see, Chris was able to explain the situation and right the wrong. He was also able to show that the restaurant itself cares for its patrons and its staff. He demonstrated loyalty and also successfully let everyone watching this post know that when they visit this establishment, they to will be cared for and have a good time.

So, when is it ok to fight back?
1) When the claims are so outrageous you need to respond.
2) When it can help strengthen your brand.
3) When your customers will feel protected and cared for.

One key component to social media in any respect, especially with negative social media, is to monitor your account. It is imperative that brands respond to both positive and negative feedback in a timely manner. You do not want someone’s negativity to be out for the world to see without a response…and you do not want a positive remark to go without a thank you.

Always remember social media is an extension of your brand, and it is a one on one relationship with current and potential customers. If you wouldn’t ignore someone standing right in front of you, do not ignore the person on social media.

Enjoy the space, use the space, create an audience and have fun.

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