Let's face it, no one likes to hear "bad" things about themselves. It's never more true when you have a corporate PR or Marketing department who's only job is to "spin". But negative thoughts, comments and situations are a given whenever a company enters into the public spectrum. There is always a detractor somewhere. This is why companies who are entering into the social media space really need to be prepared to accept the love as well as the "non-love" with their brand, products or services.
So with a little inspiration from the group on Sunday night's #blogchat group and from Debra Mastaler (who I've personally called the Link Goddess) I present some ways for companies to get over the "ouch" of starting a blog.
- Grow a Thick Skin
Everyone has a detractor. That old saying that you need a "thick skin" or just let it roll off like "duck off a waters back" is very true when it comes to blogging. Blogging naturally attracts emotions of all kinds. People love you, people hate you, you as the company or blog owner need to have a thick skin to be able to accept both the negative and positive comments the posts on your blog will attract. The biggest thing is don't freak out! The next biggest thing is don't go into the standard "defense" mode. Think things through before you actually respond to a negative comment.
- Don't Engage (or Feed) the Trolls
Don't feed the trolls anymore goats than you need too. It's a bit tough to pick out the constant complainer & avid troll, from that customer who loves you but just has this one complaint or two. Understanding the difference is key. It means the difference from having a constant enemy to having the most evangelical fan out their for your brand, product or service.
- Allow Comments on Your Blog
Don't be a one way communication device. The days of just jamming a marketing message down your audience's throat is gone. Even though it is technically your soapbox, blogging requires at least two way communication. Even more it requires community participation to become authentic and authoritative, that's why comments are vitally important to a successful blog.
- Post a Comment & Trackback Policy Prominently on Your Blog
To make things clear, and fair, companies should post (very visibly) policies about what types of comments and trackbacks they will recieve and publicly post. This protects both the audience and the comment poster (not to mention the blog itself). Having a policy that points out you will not accept comments that are vulgar, defamatory on a personal nature or racist in any way avoids companies from having to post such negative garbage and having to defend themselves against it. Post a link to your comments & trackback policies prominently on your blog to avoid this type of nonsense.
- Don't Moderate for Negative Comments
As much as anyone hates negative comments about themselves, you have to let them through, you can't moderate them out, not if you want to be taken seriously. Even if the person thinks you are the worst brand to walk the planet earth, you have to have that think skin (referr to bulletin item #1) and just let that negative roll right off your back. Look deeper into the comment and try to understand why the commenter is upset. A lot of times negative commenters are really people who like you but are just really upset because you disappointed them in some way, shape or form. By taking the time to figure that out and addressing it, you have the opportunity to turn that negativer commenter into your biggest evangelist!
- Admit When You Are Wrong
If you were wrong, or your company did wrong, don't avoid it - just admit it and get it over with. By admitting that you did wrong on your blog - whether its through blog comments or through a blog post itself, just admit you were wrong. By admitting you were wrong, you'll gain a lot more respect from your audience, as well as loyalty. We're all human, we all make mistakes, but when you can admit to those mistakes in a public forum, something that sticks around for a while, it creates a whole new dimension to your "trust factor" as will s strengthening your relationship with your audience.
I'm sure there's other tips out there for dealing with the "ouch" syndrome, do you have something that worked for you? Would love to hear about it!