It seems everything is political during an election year. There was a great reminder of this recently when a ‘political activist’ dug through the old tweets of Dominoes on Twitter and somehow found a tweet from 2012 where Domino’s was thanking a customer for tweeting a compliment to the brand.
So what? This brand did what every brand should do, right? They acknowledged and THANKED a customer for complimenting them. How many times have I talked about how you ‘reward the behavior you want to encourage’? When a customer leaves you a compliment on ANY platform or via ANY channel, you thank them.
So what’s the problem? The problem is, the Domino’s customer in question who left a compliment to the brand in 2012, happens to be the Press Secretary for the Trump Administration in 2020.
That led to the ‘political activist’ tweeting to Domino’s that ‘you just killed your brand’.
Here’s how Domino’s responded:
Welp. It's unfortunate that thanking a customer for a compliment back in 2012 would be viewed as political. Guess that's 2020 for ya.
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) June 16, 2020
Isn’t that the perfect response? They respond to the troll, but in a way that also shows how ridiculous their behavior is.
In my book Think Like a Rock Star, the 6th chapter is devoted to handling negative comments aimed at your brand via social media. In that chapter, I talked about how you need to identify the person leaving the negative comment to your brand, as that will dictate in part, how you respond. For instance, are they an actual customer of your brand, or do they appear to be a troll looking to draw attention to themselves and hassle your brand, as appears to be the case in the Dominoes example.
The problem I see many brands make when responding to trolls, is they treat them as if they were customers. They engage them, they apologize, and they attempt to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. Which often has the opposite affect, trolls want and crave attention, and if they feel the brand is placating them, they will typically double-down on their efforts.
If you’re dealing with an upset customer, that upset customer will typically give you MORE details about SPECIFIC transactions with your business. They will often reference doing business with your brand on a particular date, maybe even at a particular retail location. Trolls tend to be very vague in their criticisms, as we see in the Dominoes example.
I do NOT envy social media managers having to manage brand accounts in 2020. It’s a mostly thankless job to begin with, but in today’s highly political environment, your brand may have to deal with people who are not your customers, leaving you negative comments in an attempt to make a larger political point or to simply troll your brand. It can be VERY upsetting to wake up at 6am and see 200 angry tweets toward the brand account you manage.
Just remember to act quickly, but act smartly. Figure out what happened, who is upset, and why they are upset. If the negative comments are coming from actual customers, absolutely address and do all you can to make it right for the customer. And clearly communicate to the customer what steps you are taking. This communicates to the customer, and everyone following the exchange, that you take their concerns seriously. That also communicates to them and others that you respect your customers.
If you are dealing with an actual troll, in general, the less you respond, the better. Trolls feed off attention, if you attempt to engage and placate them, they will just double-down and troll you even harder. And others will pile on once they see your brand is responding from a position of weakness. I know it’s hard to remember sometimes, but the Twitter/Social Media mobs get angry fast, and move on to something else just as fast. So many brands make the mistake of attempting to diffuse trolling by apologizing to the trolls or worse, changing behavior based on their demands. This typically has the opposite affect of what the brand intended, as changing behavior because of trolling will often anger your customers, since the change in behavior will often impact them.
Always keep two questions in mind:
1 – Is this negative comment coming from a troll or an actual customer?
2 – Is it more important that we do what’s best for the troll, or for our customers?
If you always do what’s best for your customers, your customers will always have your back when you defend them. Keep that in mind.