Almost as a model of how to deal with negative comments to a post, Jeremiah Owyang has invited his critic, David Charback, to write a guest post. The criticism was that Owyang's advice was not sophisticated enough. Charback's witty post describes a fictional (but ripped from the headlines) situation of a corporate blogger who has to address a customer's negative, vocal, but accurate criticism on the customer's blog. He makes this point:
The integration of customer service into social media marketing programs is a logical imperative and usually will follow right on the heels of integrating corporate communications. The effects of the “new Better Business Bureau” are the ones that are going to strike your organization between the eyes first. How you invite your customer service teams into the medium can spell the difference between harmony and hatred.
There was a quote in the comments that said, "Some companies are just not quite ready for true ‘transparency’, and by definition not quite ready for social media." It made me think about this post on the Now is Gone Blog that offers some advice about transparency.
Social media brings out the extremes. Go full force and claim social media the savior of all that ails or stick your head in the sand and pretend the world is not changing. A social media effort that is forced or running scared will not be successful.
Solis continues, “Yes, so openness and transparency are “the new black.” But don’t take it at face value. Think about it first.”
You don’t have to put all your cards on the table. Understand derived value and expectations of your long term social media strategy. Business is still business.
So, fellow nonprofit communications professionals, I remixed David's scenario and replaced the word "corporate" with "nonprofit." I replaced the word "customer" with "client" or "stakeholder" or "audience" or "donor" or "supporter." And I changed the word blogger to social networker or facebooker. I've created a totally fictional nonprofit scenario:
The "Seagulls Global Internship International" places college students in rural seaside villages around the world to learn about techniques to prevent seagulls from harassing local villagers while they eat al fresco. The organization recently went through an extensive image/re-branding strategy. As part of that a new logo design was created, changing from a concrete illustration of a seagull to a post modernist abstract version of a seagull.
Almost all the college students in the program are on Facebook. The organization has an official Facebook Group and Cause, but many alumni of the program have also started their own groups to express their affiliation with the organization. These groups are not "controlled" or "managed" by the organization.
Yesterday, the Internet strategy staff person who supports the Facebook Group visited the student-created groups and found that they have posted a humorous and slightly distasteful remix of the new logo. (Use your imagination) There was also a discussion thread about why the students hate the new logo and an online petition to get signatures to lobby the organization to revert to the old logo.
Having just spent a lot of money on a new logo design which is printed on everything from t-shirts to business cards and on the new web site, the Communications staff is not likely to change it. The student group thread and petition did not have a lot of signatures or comments yet. What do you do as the social networking manager? Do you ..
- Do what the seagull in the photo above is doing to the complainers?
- Do you post a response to the Facebook Group telling the students they have no design sense?
- Do you post a response to the Facebook Group (and elsewhere) explaining the design process, logo, and branding strategy?
- Do you ignore them - saying don't feed the trolls?
- What do you tell your colleagues in the communications department and your boss who sort of skeptical of Facebook, but understand that it is a necessary evil given your audience.
Now let's say that you discover Sherman and Peabody's Wayback Machine, what you have done differently about the logo creation process?