Many brands shy away from social media out of fear for negative comments but don’t realise that social media is actually not the problem.
It is the underlying problems which cause the negativity in the first place, e.g. slow customer service, faulty products, high prices. Seth Godin made a very good point in one of his recent blog posts when he said that ‘the theory is that […] loud complainers are a problem, and the easiest solution is to give them something to make them happy.’
It is certainly the easiest solution to get your community managers busy scanning the web for problems and complaints in connection with your brand and address any negativity. It is easy to silence the complaining customers by giving them something to make them happy. But it can only be a short term fix. Because this tactic does not fix the problem, only silences the ones who complain while neglecting the once who don’t complain.
Long term, the customer problems are not going away and the money you spend to compensate for slow customer service, faulty products, high prices etc. must be invested instead in fixing the problem long term. Hire more staff, hire different staff, stop selling faulty products, whatever it takes. Like Seth puts it: silencing the bell does not put out the fire. The bell points to the fire for you to put it out.