PLAY THE BALL NOT THE MAN
Most people know that I’m no sports fan, but this sage piece of advice works perfectly not just in football, but also in these hyped up days of media and public relations.
The volume of anonymous comments spitting vitriol at people, campaigns, ideas, and opinions, is not going away, despite much debate on moderating and the self-regulation that often happens on social media sites when the majority single out the most critical and inappropriate comments for a return serve.
If you are the recipient, the writer, brand owner or campaign creator, the worst you can do is avoid giving a reply. It’s scary and there’s a lot of pressure to get it right, but reply you must.
If you don’t, you could end up like Chapstick in the US that recently had a bad experience. You can read about it here.
If you do, remember, play the ball and not the man.
Address the facts, and whatever you do, don’t make it personal or emotional. Make sure it’s timely, the longer you wait, the more you might lose control of your own messages.
Here’s a great example from mumbrella.com.au a few months ago, when a commenter criticised Mamamia for their redesign, and the CEO’s response is exemplary.
There are some great tools available to help you monitor what is being said about your brand online, such as Hootsuite, and there’s Google Alerts that help serve up news about you and your competitors on a regular basis. Using these tools will make the 24/7 news cycle and the fact that every individual is now a publisher a less onerous and more manageable task.
One last piece of advice, don’t let fear of anonymous comments scare you off communicating with the media, your customers and the world in general. I despair when a client says, “don’t send that release to [insert media outlet] because they publish anonymous negative comments”. That’s now the nature of the game, so get out there and play it.