How to Deal With Social Media Criticism


Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are effective ways to communicate with fans and introduce your company to new audiences. However, when opening up your brand’s social channels for public expression, you need to be aware that there may be criticism as well—and prepare to react quickly and efficiently to stop misinformation in its tracks before new prospects veto your brand.

For example, in 2010, Pampers redesigned its Cruisers and Swaddlers diaper product lines with a new technology known as “DryMax,” which are 20 percent thinner than previous versions of the diaper lines.

However, soon after rolling out the revamped products, a few parents began complaining that their children had gotten rashes from the new diaper lines. They voiced their concerns both on the Pampers official Facebook page, and on a critic-created “RECALL PAMPERS DRY MAX!” page, which grew to more than 3,100 “fans” who rallied against the brand and shared their criticisms of the diapers. Even worse, the online outcry led mainstream media to pick up the story, with a CNN story questioning whether the diapers were dangerous.

Pampers responded with a detailed communications strategy, issuing several press releases that included statements in support of Dry Max by Kimberly Thompson, founder of the pediatric safety and risk group Kids Risk. Representatives from Pampers also granted television interviews to several media sources to tell the company’s side of the story.

The diapers were also inspected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which confirmed that the products were not a cause for consumer safety concern.

Even so, Pampers offered a dedicated support line for questions regarding the Dry Max products, and kept its social media channels open for discussion, positive or negative. They even offered to compensate some worried parents for pediatrician visits to explore the source of their children’s medical problems.

The brand successfully weathered the social media storm, and today, its Facebook page is a rich environment where parents can ask questions about diapering and baby care, and share parenting tips and stories with one another through Pampers’ daily conversation prompts.

By addressing the rumors and taking steps to alleviate customer concerns while maintaining an open social media environment, Pampers proved itself as a social media success story.

What lessons can you take away from Pampers’ success story?

  • Don’t ignore or censor the criticism. By acting like you have something to hide, fans will grow more suspicious.
  • Be respectful of people who claim there is an issue. By making a good-faith effort to acknowledge people’s concerns and communicate with them, you will be more likely to keep them as loyal fans.
  • Get experts to speak out on your behalf. If followers are making untrue claims about your brand, issue statements from experts who have credibility in your industry to disprove those claims.
  • Don’t let the controversy take over your social media account. While it’s important to acknowledge and respond to the backlash, you should also continue to post news updates and positive comments about your company, and ask questions of your followers that can help you foster a true online community.
More By Kathryn Hawkins
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