Complaints, Trademark Violations and Retweet Requests: How to Handle Anything on Twitter

May 11, 2010

There are a lot of examples of companies that handle the unexpected well on Twitter; there are just as many, if not more, of companies that didn’t.

Don’t be in that latter group. Following is a brief list of expert suggestions on how to handle several common issues related to marketing via Twitter.

You Get a Complaint, Legitimate Or Otherwise
First distinguish between the two, Lisa Barone, Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, writes on the company blog. Barone, in fact, was discussing what to do when your company gets a negative review on Yelp, but the theory is largely the same for Twitter.

“Not all bad reviews are created equal,” writes Barone. “Sometimes going in and engaging a disgruntled customer will help them see your company in a new light and other times you’re just opening yourself up to more negative attention.”

Respond contritely if you genuinely need to make amends, advises Barone. “It often doesn’t take much to smooth over one bad experience.” Respond as well if they are misstating the facts, she says. “Speak up and politely let them know that they may have simply misunderstood something …if it’s a matter of bad facts, you should step in to correct them.”

Take all of the complaints seriously, even the ones that seem frivolous, because they all have the potential to develop legs, Barone concludes.

You Spot A Possible Trademark Violation
The law on the use of trademarks in Twitter and Facebook is not any different from their general application on the web, according to Finnegan attorney Jon Gelchinsky. As reported by MarketingVox, Gelchinsky says that in some cases, if the infringement is benign, it may the company’s best interests to leave it alone, considering how quickly cease and desist letters can go viral. But if the use is likely to cause confusion or dilution, then the brand owner should take action.

Gelchinsky says that now that Twitter and other social media real-time feeds are becoming archived – and searchable – it is more important for brands to be vigilant about trademark protection on these sites.

Someone Asks You To Retweet Them
Of course, many companies automatically retweet positive comments about their products or services. Each situation is different, depending on the company and industry. But it is worth considering a purist’s view of retweeting before you indiscriminately hit the send button.

Peter Shankman has at least 50,000 followers that he attracted, he says, following a simple formula reported by MarketingVox: “Honesty, transparency, brevity, relevance, and top-of-mind presence – i.e., offering you valuable information in exchange for you letting me into your life. The day I start shilling for other people is the day my Twitter stream becomes nothing more than advertising, or than a press release submitted over a wire.”

His formula for retweet requests: polite honesty, or the following excerpt of his form letter.

“As we get closer to the date of the conference, I will make mention that I’m keynoting your event, in a way that benefits my followers. I will not, however, advertise for you to my followers, who sign up to receive valuable insight from me, not blatant advertisements. I tweet about all my keynotes. But I do it in my voice, on my time, in a way that’s not blatantly advertorial, self-promoting, or self-serving. Those are my rules. I don’t violate them. Ever. I’m sure you understand.”


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