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school marketing news

Managing negative feedback on social media

Posted by Shelley Garcia-Webb

social media managementSocial media is often referred to as a conversation. This means that prospective and current parents can communicate very easily with schools, allowing them to form relationships and feel part of the school community.

It also means that you open yourself up to negative criticism.

While customer complaints on social media are on the rise, more than 50 percent of brands don’t have an effective strategy in place to manage potentially damaging social commentary.

The rise in social media has been so astronomical that many schools have scrambled to secure their social media footprint without having the policies and strategies in place to ensure the successful execution of this communication strategy. And this puts you on the back foot.

There are a few simple guidelines to follow when dealing with negative feedback. First, you need to identify the feedback – does it expose a real problem, come with a suggestion or can it be firmly dumped in the spam or trolling trash can?

Once you’ve determined the level of criticism, it’s time to decide how you’ll react. The number one rule is to stay positive. If a real problem exists, take steps to fix it. Everyone makes mistakes, the real mistake is not taking the opportunity to grow from the experience.

If the feedback is subjective, thank your reader for their feedback and clearly state why you do things the way you do. You may have a valid reason.

Most importantly, don’t delete negative feedback. Responding to negative criticism demonstrates excellent customer service and shows that you value your customers.

You’ll also need to consider the timing of your responses. According to a report by Edison Research, 42 percent of social media users expect a response within one hour. This means it’s important that you have a plan in place to deal with negative feedback in a timely manner.

Following one school’s decision to change the school uniform, a former student set up a Facebook page lobbying the alumni and the community to voice their concerns over the issue. The page generated significant attention and even gained publicity through local media outlets.

The school did not have a social media footprint nor any experience in dealing with online criticism. This could have been a great opportunity to gain support for the move, had the school utilised social media in a positive manner in its initial communication planning. As it stood, however, they were found wanting.

The school’s failure to address the social media campaign against the new uniform, further exacerbated the problem, with the campaign left to gain momentum and garner further attention. It became a publicity nightmare. The school community felt excluded from a key school decision.

If the school had acknowledged the criticism on social media and clearly communicated its reasoning, many online users would not have felt so compelled to so publicly voice their concerns and it would not have become such a ‘story’ for local media. Further, if the discussion had been addressed and then taken offline at the outset it would not have generated anywhere near as much attention.

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Preventing PR nightmares is imageseven’s speciality. With media heavyweights to assist you in the event of controversy, you get the assurance of experts on standby to guide you through the critical stages of managing negative feedback and any associated risks to your school’s image.

Having a plan on how to deal with negative feedback by no means allows you to relax, but it will put you one step ahead of the game.

If you’d like some assistance in managing your social media, contact us now, we’d love to help.

This blog was written by Shelley Garcia-Webb

As a Senior Account Manager, Shelley oversees the corporate communications for a large portfolio of clients. She has a strong reputation as a dedicated marketing professional with a keen eye for detail. When she’s not writing creative copy or juggling multiple projects she can be found obsessing about food, dreaming about outdoor adventures and travel and dancing to live music … especially The Cat Empire.


Topics: Education, Social media, Strategy, Crisis management, Issue management, Social media management