Since Instagram is not a homogeneous digital environment, businesses are better be prepared to deal with negative feedback. Track down the most successful conflict management strategies to get a couple of useful insights.
Conflict Management for Social Media Environment: Useful Insights and Real Cases
Would you believe that the company could lose $180 million because of the song? Well, United Airlines learned this the hard way. Let's take from the beginning.

Back in 2008 Dave Carroll, a Halifax musician, took a regular flight on United to play a show. Since he was not allowed to take his Taylor guitar in the cabin, the musical instrument ended up in the checked luggage. Being a rather fragile item, it was a great challenge to survive the whole trip safe and sound. At least, the hard case violently thrown onto the conveyor, which was noted by one observant passenger, was a poor start.

The fate of the guitar turned out to be even more dramatic. So it was quite natural that upon arrival, Dave found his property no longer suitable for the stage. In righteous anger, he demanded to reimburse him for the damage and ended up spending nine months trying to get the airline to do things right. Without much result, though, what is especially unsettling. The company management not only refused to recover the cost, but even withdrew the previously offered $1,200 flight voucher.

The man realized that complaints would lead to nowhere. It was either suing the court, which would involve even greater expenses or coming to terms with the situation. Yet, there was a third option no one would ever think about. Dave wrote the song "United Breaks Guitars" and simply described the whole story. The clip became a YouTube sensation and gained 22M views. United’s shares fell 10% which equals $180 million.

United Breaks Guitar story

After the buzz was made, the airline finally got around to suggesting a refund for video removal. Yet, it was Dave’s turn to say “no”.

Quite a telling story of how consumers are resting control from brands, isn’t it? Yet, it was sufficient to simply nip the conflict in the bud before it evolved into a huge business problem.

This has become a remarkably valuable skill on social media, since the information here travels literally at the speed of light, and you are risking getting swept away by an avalanche of public discussion.

What is Conflict Management for Social Media?

Conflict management on social media refers to techniques used to handle and resolve conflicts that arise in online interactions and discussions. By taking the right steps as the dialogue rolls out, you have the opportunity to change the scope of the misunderstanding and shift the emphasis in a way that benefits you. Thus, the main goal of conflict management strategies is to foster healthy and respectful online liaisons, promote understanding, and constructively resolve disputes.

A careless post or statement may undermine a brand’s reputation, yet you can take everything under control by properly responding to conflict situations. In a perfect world, you’d better prevent them, but at times a communication war breaks out of the blue. In this case, the company must perform to the best of its abilities to both save face and not offend the audience.

There is no need to be afraid of finding yourself in a scandal. Being out of your comfort zone is nerve-racking, however, by taking measured steps, you will manage to turn things in your favor.

Benefits One Can Get if Making Everything Right

Everyone experiences negative comments on social media, whether you are a brand or an individual. What matters is how a business deals with them. Overlooking is never a solution. Such behaviour harms your image and pushes customers away.

conflicts on socials

Although conflicts on social media are unpleasant and cause negative emotions, they can also bring something positive for businesses:

1. The chance to learn from mistakes

The silence of disappointed customers is destructive. As long as you believe your products or services are flawless when in reality they are not, your competitors will effortlessly hunt for your customers. Negative feedback helps to identify weak spots and get rid of them. Businesses can use it to improve their products as well as make necessary changes in marketing strategies.

2. The opportunity to showcase responsiveness

Conflict management on social networks promotes deeper understanding and respect for different opinions. With the right approach to conflict resolution, a more tolerant and inclusive communication environment can be created. As a business handles conflict on social media, demonstrate your responsiveness, professionalism, and ability to resolve problems.

3. Increased visibility and broader coverage

Social media algorithms do not distinguish bad comments from good ones; only their total number is processed. This means that any activity increases engagement rates, which is key to higher rankings in the Recommended and Explore sections. The more comments you receive, the higher the chance of reaching a new audience for free by promoting content using the social network lifts.

4. Building up a powerful community through customer loyalty

Conflict management establishes trust between the brand and the audience. When clients see that conflicts are resolved fairly and with their best interests in mind, they feel more confident in the company and are willing to forgive their mistakes, remain committed, and even continue to recommend you to others.

5. A booster for a stronger reputation

If a business knows how to manage conflict on social media, it improves the company's reputation. When other users see that you are willing to accept responsibility and work to the best of your ability to resolve problems, your reputation as a trustworthy and responsible brand is enhanced.

It must be noted that all the benefits can only be realized through effective conflict management. Businesses must be prepared to respond appropriately, listen to customers, offer solutions, and be open to feedback.

Having an idea of what conflict management is, in theory, doesn’t always ensure adequate conflict management style application for real situations.

So, let's look together at the most illustrative conflict management examples that any business can make use of.

The Casio's Exercises in Wit on Twitter

It’s always nice when your brand is heard about. Thus, the line in Shakira’s new single brought the Japanese watch brand $29 million in print publications, online media, and $41 million on social networks.

What amazes me the most, is public excitement around the brand is not the merit of the “Queen of Latin Music”. In a full-on diss track, aimed at her ex, the singer stated that Pique “traded a Ferrari for a Twingo” and “swapped a Rolex for a Casio”, which was not in the least a complement to the brand.

The Japanese watch mastered a snappy comeback, “In defense of our watches, our battery lasts longer than the relationship between Shakira and Pique”. Or check this one from the same series:

Casio media case

As an icing on the cake, four days after the drop, the former Barcelona soccer player announced the sponsorship of the watch brand for the soccer tournament that he was leading with the 'streamer' Ibai Llanos. Thus, Casio became an official sponsor of Kings League Fantasy.

Casio sponsorship case

The Insight to add to a smart decisions collection

To play your cards right, you need to learn how to choose correctly from different types of conflict management.

It seems humor and memes are real lifesavers for conflict resolution management. Reacting to Shakira’s aggressions in such a way was liked by a wide audience and went viral on social networks. Increased awareness and improving attitudes towards Casio are a direct consequence of timely publishing a couple of witty responses on Twitter to neutralise the negativity.

It is an excellent model for turning criticism to your advantage. And it doesn’t cost the company a penny!

Taylor's Making Amends for Someone Else's Blunder

If you still sympathize with Dave and his long-suffering guitar, we’ll be happy to tell you that this story does have a happy ending. The Taylor company, which produced the musical instrument, took advantage of the situation so well that we can't help but admire it. In reaction to the musician’s first video, the management gave him a new guitar and posted its content on YouTube, viewed for a moment 935,000 times.

Bob Taylor supported the musician and lamented that such cases often occur. He didn't even say anything about the guitar gifted. In what appeared to be a completely unscripted speech, the owner of the company simply directed people to the company's website with tips on safe transportation and assured that Taylor repairs all guitars, including those from other manufacturers. All filming took place in a workshop with people assembling guitars in the background, so you just feel the commonness vibe.

Tailor media conflict reply

At first glance, one may think it was an unpretentious video. Well, the key word here is, at first.

The Insight to add to a smart decisions collection

Sometimes, taking the right side is the best thing you can do for your reputation. Demonstrating empathy, coupled with a willingness to share responsibility, can build trust in a brand and improve its social image.

Let’s be honest, the most emotional element of the story is that we all can relate to it. Such things can happen to any of us. That is why Bob Taylor talking about clients and their needs, and what is of more value in offering solutions, hits the right spot. The message here is not to deal with a particular case, it is all about making the audience safe and protected.

Thus, reassuring the audience in advance is the best way to advertise.

The North Face’s Epic Response

While hiking in a national park in New Zealand, Jenn Jensen got caught in the rain. And it was the time she discovered her North Face “waterproof” jacket soaked wet. Since the item didn’t pass the challenge, the girl decided to share it on the most challenge-obsessed platform. In other words, she made a TikTok video about it.

Jenn called on the brand to “redesign the raincoat to make it waterproof and express deliver it up to the top of Hooker Valley Lake”, where she will be waiting. Being crafted on the spur of the moment, the clip went viral and hit 12 M views, with the brand itself among others.

The North Face conflict case

Can you think of what has happened next? Any wild guesses are welcome!

The Insight to add to a smart decisions collection

Social media hype can only be crushed by an even greater one. Refunding would hardly have beaten it. This was especially true for people who had already watched the clip. They needed SOMETHING to sway the opinion. So the company decided on the most grandiose action possible.

At some point, one of the caustic comments, “North Face has left the conversation,” was answered from the official page. They went like “Sorry, we were busy express delivery Jenn her jacket at the top of the mountain.” followed by a video. A mind-blowing one. A store employee was grabbing a new red jacket, climbing into a helicopter, and delivering it to Jenn, still on the shore of a beautiful mountain lake.

social media hype

The clip was viewed 4,4 M times and is already claimed to be the most ingenious PR move of recent years.

Burberry’s Adjustments Into Brand Policy

Not only do customer reviews affect public perception, employee feedback matters no less. Anything an employee says about a company can lead to a reputational scandal or simply impair social judgment about the brand.

A former Burberry staff member passed the info off that the company burnt almost €32 million worth of unsold clothes, accessories, and cosmetic products last year. The news provoked a storm of criticism as activists and environmentalists stood against the company’s unsustainable practices.

Even though the brand tried to defend the customers' right to an exclusive product, as copies at reduced prices destroy the very essence of the company's policy on the market, the voice of the public remained highly disapproving. Some people even called it “disgusting” and expressed outrage that the excess products hadn’t been given to charity.

Burberry conflict case

The Insight to add to a smart decisions collection

We can draw two conclusions from this story. Unresolved conflicts can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration among team members, potentially resulting in reputational losses. Deep-laid team conflict management encourages open communication and active listening and provides an opportunity for the employee to be heard and considered.

With proper conflict management in the workplace, you can retain an employee or at least part with him without backfiring.

However, if the worst has already happened and sensitive information has been leaked to the media, you are to make a difficult decision. Either you stick to your guns, regardless of the risks involved, or you rethink your marketing strategy, as Burberry did with its sustainable clothing collection.

Well, you have read four fascinating cases that demonstrate completely different conflict management techniques. But just imagine how many more are missing from the article.

Expand Your Horizons Through Vicarious Experiences

To keep your finger on the pulse, it is useful to regularly monitor what is happening in the business world, as it is an effective, and most importantly painless, training for conflict management.

Turn to social networks to stay posted about big cases. Apply black checkmarks, create collections, or make sure you don’t lose valuable information, better store the extracted data offline.

Unfortunately, Instagram still doesn't allow downloading content directly from the app. You don’t need to worry, though. With the Instagram Downloader tool, rest assured that you will receive an identical video or image on any device without loss of quality or unnecessary watermarks.

The Bottom Line

Conflict management is crucial for businesses and organizations that use social media as a marketing and customer service tool. Promptly addressing and resolving conflicts demonstrates professionalism, empathy, and a commitment to customer satisfaction. This helps maintain a positive brand image and fosters customer loyalty.

However, you can turn this to your advantage only by sticking to the right strategy. To do this, pay attention to companies' behavior in similar situations and catch insights on how they managed to keep conflicts from spiraling out of control, minimizing the negative impact on individuals involved and the wider online community.

The more tactics and approaches you discover, the more effectively you will be able to adapt to the diverse nature of users in socials.