What’s in a word.

Posted on February 17, 2010 in Social Media

Letters, emotion, opinion. Words. At work we are looking at social media strategies so I have been examining how we communicate to our community. As someone with a PR background and a lifetime of making sure I say the right thing – not only for credibility but respect, I am very sensitive to using the right words.

When you are engaging your community of customers through social media, it is imperative that you do so in their language, terms, and phrasing or you will alienate them off the bat. It is also important to never contradict their opinions. If someone has a negative thing to say about your company, never declare they are wrong on a public forum. Publicly apologize and offer to support or fix the issue they are communicating to you about.  The trick is to say that without offending the original poster or the thousands, if not more, that could read about it.

I’ve put together some examples of where a simple statement can be confusing or taken out of context to mean something else.

“It is highly unusual for this event to happen.” When you try to minimize the impact of the problem, and use terms like highly unusual, rarely happens, not usually the case, etc it can actually imply that your company feels this person is lying or that because it rarely happens it isn’t important that it did. Also stay away from terms like “this is an isolated case” That’s just tempting the fates to throw similar cases at you.

“If you prefer to discuss this offline and in private…” Ok, yes, sometimes a complaint about your company needs to be offline because it deals with sensitive information. But if this person feels that strongly that they need to voice it publicly, risking the exposure of their personal experience, you should offer the private option as well as several others to ensure they make the choice on how to communicate with your company.

“That wasn’t what we meant” But that is what you said, and hey we’ve all said things that were taken the wrong way or is it really wrong? I mean, why should my impression of you be wrong just because after the fact you tell me you didn’t mean it that way.

I’m going to have more of these, just wanted to capture these thoughts before they file out of my head.

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