If you haven’t heard of the phrase the ‘Streisand Effect’ it derives from an incident in 2003 when Barbara Streisand’s beach front mansion was photographed as part of a government sanctioned and government commissioned report into coastal erosion. Streisand objected to the publication of the photo and instructed her lawyers to get it removed, at the time, the photograph had been downloaded only 6 times (twice by Streisand’s lawyers), as a result of the case this jumped to 420,000 views over the following month. (more on that here).
More recently, Beyonce’s representatives requested that Buzzfeed (you can see the pictures here) remove ’unflattering’ photographs of the singer from her Super Bowl performance resulting in thousands more people seeing the photos than might have originally. For other examples, think of the Ryan Giggs affair last February and Martha Payne who blogged about her school dinners and was told to stop by the local authority, Martha turned her social media infamy into a charity which has raised in excess of £120,000.
The public, particularly via the internet want to know everything and are happy to express anything. The common take on the English is that they are reserved, that they won’t pipe up when something’s not right, well, not any more!
People are naturally interested and actively pursue the search for something which has been censored or hidden. The inquisitive human mind wonders what it is that’s so bad that they cannot see, which in turn, makes seeking out the banned or hidden information desirable. Since Beyonce, and all the other stars attempted to cover things up, they became worse (or in Martha’s case better).
The ‘Streisand Effect’ applies to companies and brands not just celebrities. Companies need to deal with negative comments (and positive comments) in an appropriate manner, trying to remove or cover up the comments will only result in the problem worsening. One of the main ways information spreads so rapidly is through social media sites with users sharing the stories and images with their peers and encouraging them to ‘share’ them to create a viral sensation. Removing negative comments is not the thing to do, but they must be dealt with quickly and effectively in order to withhold your company’s reputation and maintain the relationship with the unsatisfied customer. If the company responds appropriately to the comments, this may result in positive word of mouth when the customer can go on to say how pleased they were with how their problem was dealt with and the great service they received in return.
PowerText offer a ‘Facebook Fan Moderation Console’ which monitors any negative keywords so that if they appear on your Facebook page wall for example, it will be flagged up and you will be notified by email with a link to the negative comment.
Contacting the customer to apologise, or publicly replying underneath the comment, shows good service and will allow others to view your quick response and attempt to reconcile the problem rather than ignoring or removing it. This will give other customers the comfort in knowing that any problems they too many experience will not be overlooked, showing their opinion is considered and valued. With displeased customers and negative word of mouth, small matters can become exaggerated and hard to scramble back from. A situation when ignorance is definitely not bliss!
Our top ten tips for dealing with Social Media negative feedback.
1. Don’t delete it, this will only enrage the poster to post again.
2. However, if the post is full of profanity that other customers may find offensive, reply in a way that the complainant can get in touch with you and then remove it (make sure you screen grab it first).
3. If you have managers that look after their own social media presences, have a good policy in place. Often this might link through to a company’s feedback system
4. Be firm but fair in your response.
5. Take the conversation away from the channel, i.e. post your, or request the customers contact details via a private message. Post that you have done this on the thread.
6. Request that the customer remove the post or reply to the post once they are satisfied.
7. If the situation escalates, post a press release on your website with contact information to get in touch. Be careful not to do this from a PR/Marketing angle, it needs to come from a director.
8. If the problem persists, arrange to make yourself available at a location where customers can address their concerns directly to you.
9. Be careful when dictating policy via your social channels.
10. You have the opportunity through social media to retain long time customers who might have just had one poor experience, don’t let that opportunity go to waste.
Our 1 top tip for positive comments:
1. Acknowledge it and say thanks!
(Original image taken from Buzzfeed).