Sunday, 13 June 2010

7 ideas to manage criticism on Social Media

You are in a convention’s coffee break, that kind of ideal moments for business networking and just met a person who presents himself as a B2B/Social Media consultant. The very next phrase this consultant says is “Are you ready to learn a lot about B2B marketing from me?”
What is your reaction?
What is your impression about this person?

If you don’t do certain kind of things in your real life relationships; why to do them in the Social Web? Where the same well-known social and business networking practices apply. I use this example because actually I did receive this direct message on Twitter after begin to follow a self proclaimed B2B/SM/Marketing consultant:

I don’t know you, but my first impression was that of an extremely arrogant person, bragging in an environment like social media where authenticity, transparency, equal status and influencing for engage more than hard selling are the rules of the game. So I expressed my opinion like this:

Only to get back almost immediately this answer:

Right away along my time line began to arrive many critics to this reaction from other peeps, qualifying this consultant as anti-professional and childish at the least, not to mention several jokes about his expertise.

Nobody’s perfect, no matter how carefully you plan your campaign execution, your messages, your blog posts, etc… there will always be someone that doesn’t agree with you or even that criticize your brand.

So how to handle criticism adequately without damaging your brand’s image? whether is your own personal brand or the one from the company you represent. I propose 7 ideas:
  1. Never respond, twit or update status if you’re angry. Let your emotions ease and once you get calm think about the solution, never act impulsively it’s almost sure you’ll regret it later.
  2. Always answer, no matter how difficult or embarrassing it might be, you should always give a public response to the issue. Silence implies you’re ignoring criticism, which may result in greater anger and more critics that can initiate a snowball effect, under which your brand will be buried.
  3. Respond honestly and clearly, if mistake was yours accept it and explain how you’ll fix it. Accepting responsibility and offering the adequate reward will boost your brand’s credibility.
  4. Answer fast, answer several times and always through the same channel the comment arrived. Ensuring both interested recipient and the whole community will receive the message.
  5. If you can’t provide an immediate answer, due the issue’s complexity, say it openly promising you’ll soon do so. Act as fast as you can and give the answer within the next hours or a day maximum; social media is an extremely fast pace environment where a small misunderstanding may become a brand’s public relations crisis within hours, or even minutes.
  6. Do not be defensive; it may turn against you in a bad manner. If it wasn’t your fault go to the problem roots, find out how and where the misunderstanding began and explain it clearly to the community.
  7. Last but maybe the most significant for the future: be ready to change. If criticism is valid why not accept it and incorporate that feedback on your campaign, topic or process? You’ll win tons of trust from the community.
There’s no perfect response to online criticism and answer may depend on the type of problem and how far has gone. Have you ever faced critics to your brand, corporate or personal? How you coped with it? Have you more ideas?
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7 Responses to “7 ideas to manage criticism on Social Media”

Nico said...

Nice thoughts, but not always it's easy to deal with attacks. I will add number 8:

Do not insult. like that pseudo-consultant WTF! who is? so I can avoid stumble upon him

Rebecca said...

I think that there is something being overlooked in this post - there is a BIG difference between good criticism and poor cricism.... There is a way of criscising with a level of respect - using the #fail tag in a tweet is just rude in my opinion, when the DM was in fact just a confident message of the tweeter's expertise. I think that your 'opinion' was antagonising and the response was justified - although admittedly OTT.

Stuart said...

Rebecca makes a really good point. Although the consultants response may have been over the top, your original response of '#fail humility & unfollow' goes against many of your points....

Maybe if your reply would have been more constructed the issue would have never have escalated to the point where you felt the need to blog about it...

Aku said...

Good points! Also Rebecca and Stuart have good points - perhaps your reaction was a bit OTT.

Joan said...

Personally I think maybe Delphin's answer was a bit rude, but just answering back somehow with same coin to that overbearing person. I could have done the same.

Vera said...

I believe that you only followed exactly what you state on your post: responding and doing so with honesty and clearly showing your reason why (his lack of humility)

what is more than kind from your side is to hide this persons name

Thanks for sharing your online adventures ;)

Delfin said...

Thanks everyone for your valuable comments and critics too.

I think the root of all this may be the openness each one has to receive critics: what is rudeness for ones is just honesty for others, what is expertise confidence for ones can easily be seen as bragging for the rest.

After working in several countries with so diverse ways to approach business, I have learned our culture and languages directly affect this. B2B communications can be extremely different for Anglo-Saxons or Nordics or Latinos, despite of online or offline channels.

I totally agree with you about criticism: instead of keep exchanging useless banal twits, I thought the best way, the most constructive one to criticize that attitude was with a blog post + an open discussion and here you are, thanks for participating on it!