How to Respond to Criticism of Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

No social media marketing campaign is a complete success. It never is. Although you may reach many more people than you could have ever imagined, more likely than not, you’re still bound to upset some people and even potentially spark an inflammatory response among a few others. From the outset, before you launch your SMM campaign, you need to plan for the potential criticism that may come your way.

There’s no perfect way to respond, and the answer usually depends on the type of criticism, how widespread it is, and where it is coming from. Your PR department is usually more versed in responding to criticism (and crisis management more broadly) than anyone else, so you should be sure to bring that department into the process early.

Regardless, here are some guidelines to keep at the back of your mind as you launch your campaign and prepare for the criticism that may come your way:

  • Respond early and often.

    There’s no greater insult to people criticizing your SMM campaign than to be ignored. Ignoring criticism results in greater anger and more vitriolic responses that can snowball into a full-fledged crisis as the anger percolates across the social web. Before you know it, your CEO — or maybe The New York Times — is calling your desk, so respond quickly.

  • Respond honestly and clearly.

    Be sure to use your own name when you respond. Just as you have to be authentic with your campaign, so you have to be with your response. Be clear about your rationale for why the campaign is designed the way it is, admit mistakes when the fault is yours, and be inclusive in your responses.

  • Be prepared to change based on the feedback.

    It’s easier to be stubborn and not to change your SMM campaign. But if criticism about the campaign is valid, whether it’s of the structure, the creative aspect, or the rules regarding the type of conversation, you should incorporate the feedback and make the appropriate changes. You’ll win back trust quickly.

  • Don’t hesitate to bring humor to the situation.

    Some of the best responses have been those that included a touch of self-effacing humor. Brands aren’t above people, and neither is yours. Humor goes a long way in the social web, and sometimes the response becomes the new SMM campaign.

  • Use the same channels for the response.

    This may seem obvious, but it really isn’t. Respond to people in the way they’ve criticized you. Don’t go on national television to respond to a YouTube outburst. You’ll become the laughingstock of the social web.