By now, everyone understands the impact social media can have on increasing a client’s visibility among key demographics. These platforms have become an integral part of our PR and marketing initiatives for healthcare, insurance, technology or other industry firms, and oftentimes the key to a successful PR campaign. Although underutilized and often overlooked, LinkedIn has proven to be equally as beneficial for companies—particularly B2B companies—to connect and network with clients, employees and the like.
It is not uncommon for a company to create a “group” on LinkedIn to network and communicate with current and/or prospective clients. In fact, this strategy is often recommended because it provides a platform for discussion and questions between the company and the outside community. What happens, though, if a group member decides to post a negative comment on your company’s LinkedIn page? On the one hand, by removing the comment, you risk being viewed as one-sided and averse to open dialogue. On the other hand, by choosing to leave the comment, you risk negative publicity and a skewed company message.
We have thought long and hard about the tactics needed to successfully manage your company’s LinkedIn page and its member conversations. Here is our recommendation:
Rule 1: It is a public relations best-practice standard to manage conversations—positive or negative—rather than prohibit them.
The owner/manager of your company’s LinkedIn group is capable of deleting discussions or comments. They also have a certain degree of latitude for deciding what type of discussion content to allow and for establishing written standards for posting. However, your company’s reputation within the community is the way to gauge how successful you are (or aren’t), and which aspects of your company or services may need a little help. By limiting or filtering member dialogue, you limit your company’s access to vital information that could provide key insight into ways your company could improve. To ensure that you are differentiating a negative discussion/post with a harmless and potentially insightful one, bring in your group manager (or another appointed member) to survey these posts, daily or weekly, and respond appropriately in a timely manner.
Rule 2: A negative comment does not necessarily indicate truth or malice; it could be a sign of misinformation.
This is another testament to maintaining open dialogue among your group members. It is more favorable to correct misinformation than to make it disappear without explanation. This is your opportunity to personally reach out to that member (via private message in order to avoid embarrassment) and provide them with accurate information and potentially a link to your company’s website where they can learn more. The same is true if the comment references a negative experience with the company or an unhelpful customer service experience. This is your opportunity to apologize to that member and offer them a better experience in the future. This strategy may not always remedy the situation or alter their tainted opinion of the company; but at the very least, it will prove that you are willing to improve the situation if at all possible.
Once you have reached out to this member and have either corrected the inaccurate information or apologized for a negative experience, kindly ask them to remove their comment or update their post with accurate information. This has not only proven to work, but this tactic also salvages a potentially beneficial relationship with that person.
Rule 3: If all else fails, you may need to exercise your right to delete the comment, or even to remove difficult members from your group.
If—after your initial attempt to talk with a disgruntled member—they still refuse to delete their comment or continue to post negative discussions, then you may need to exercise your right to remove the comment yourself. Note: when a group manager deletes a comment, the post will be replaced with a message that states “The comment was deleted by the group manager.” When a comment is deleted by the member his/herself, it is removed completely as if it never existed—another reason it is preferable to have them delete it themselves. This is not the ideal situation, but rest assured you did your due diligence to remedy the situation in an appropriate manner. And at the end of the day, the benefits of having a company LinkedIn page far outweigh the potential for an occasional negative post.
If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a social media or public relations campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.