In a bizarre case of social media gone wrong, a building complex issued a “Facebook Addendum” insisting that tenants friend their Facebook page. The addendum noted that negative reviews were forbidden. Predictably, this backfired, sending hundreds of one star reviews in the building’s direction. If there’s one thing social media campaigners need to learn about the Internet, it’s that customers hate being told what they have to do.

Not the First Apartment Complex Gone Bad

In 2015 there was another similar story when an apartment complex threatened fines for negative reviews. The implication here is that there are individuals who are competent enough to create a “Social Media Addendum” yet not smart enough to realize that what they are doing is both illegal and unethical. As associations increasingly see their online reviews controlling the tenants and owners they can attract, it’s becoming more urgent for them to control their media. But they haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

A Lesson Learned in Social Media Marketing

It’s difficult to say whether this is a lesson about social media or a lesson about human nature. Social media always goes wrong when marketers attempt to fight their consumers. The goal is to give the consumers what they want — not tell them what you want. Marketers often go wrong when they get frustrated; the customer isn’t doing what they want, so they feel they have to herd the customer into it. All this does is produce a poor user experience and alienate potential clients.

The Better Way to Deal With Negative Reviews

Fining someone $10,000 for a negative review isn’t just unfeasible, it’s probably illegal. Moreover, there are far better ways to deal with negative reviews. The best way for a marketer to deal with negative sentiment is:

  • Transparency. Respond immediately and in public so that others can see your response.
  • Resolution. Provide a solution for the customer immediately and give them further contact information.
  • Professionalism. Always be polite and professional with the customer — even if they’re wrong.

Then again, it’s likely neither of the above communities consulted with a professional social media marketer. One thing is certain though — their lawyer, if they even have one, is probably racking up the billable hours.

Jenna Inouye
Jenna I. is a freelance writer, programmer and web developer, focusing on the areas of digital marketing, technology, gaming and finance. Hire Jenna through WriterAccess or contact her directly.

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