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Brands and the Big Scary Dislike Button

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the long requested “dislike” option for Facebook posts and comments was in the works. Despite Zuckerberg’s caveat that the button would convey empathy, rather than negativity, the announcement has caused rumblings among individual users and organizations, alike.

Since the launch of social media, users have expressed displeasure, disgust and even anger with ideas, photos, and articles that other users post on newsfeeds and public pages. Many brands have learned, sink or swim style, the sheer power that social media has given consumers.

Dealing with such harsh criticism has resulted in the rise of two schools of thought regarding brand response to negative sentiment. The first, which is widely being phased out, is the idea that negative content and sentiment should be removed from pages immediately.

The problem with this approach is that it often leaves customers feeling ignored, as if their concerns or displeasure don’t matter to the company. Frustration can build, and loyalty lost.

The second school of thought is that brands should address negative posts head-on and engage the dissatisfied customer to fix the issue of contention.

While many argue that the Facebook dislike button is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to bullying, my brand-specific recommendation is as follows:

  • Talk it out: While the dislike button will express a sentiment, brands need to learn the root of the displeasure so that they can address it head-on.
  • Make it count: We’re all guilty of view the number of “likes” as simply that— a number. Brands need to make sure not to step on the same landmine by instead taking a quality over quantity approach to responses.
  • Remember that sentiment can spread: Because dislikes are more a more anonymous option than comments, consumers may feel more compelled to express displeasure through the feature – especially if they see the number of dislikes growing on a post.

Happy, engaged customers are loyal customers. Social media has provided brands with tools to be transparent and engage with their audiences. Facebook’s new dislike button is not evil in and of itself – rather it is a tool that your target audience may soon use to express their displeasure.

Shrink not away in fear; rather, use the negative sanction as you would with any other expression of displeasure as a point of negotiation. Address the matter with clarity, transparency and work with consumers to find a common ground resolution that upholds the brand’s vision, mission and values.

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