How to Handle Blog Controversy
Be a Grinch. That’s the key to social engagement, according to a study by research group Statistical Cybermetrics. By applying sentiment analysis to BBC online forums, researchers found that the longest conversation threads were more emotionally negative than shorter threads.
Does that mean you have license to let out your inner Grinch when engaging with a disagreeing (or disagreeable) online customer? Afraid not. Ticking off customers is never a good customer relations policy. But when controversy hits the corporate blog you do need a strategy for handling it professionally.
- Recognize that controversy is not a dirty word. Disagreement is one way to innovate as well as evaluate ideas and products. And, as the above study suggests, controversy engages social media users. So when debate bubbles up, don’t immediately dismiss it—embrace it and use it as an opportunity to educate the audience and, perhaps, yourself.
- Evaluate the trigger. If you authored the blog post or comment that triggered the debate, did you use clumsy words that some might consider offensive? Did someone on your social media team respond to a customer’s comment in a dismissive way? Find out if there’s merit in the backlash, and, if there is, acknowledge and remedy it.
- Respond when necessary. Let audiences know the brand takes comments and criticisms seriously. While it’s not always necessary to respond to inflammatory comments, you should react to allegations and merited criticism. Respond directly on the corporate blog or direct consumers to an appropriate company representative (for instance, provide the email for Jen in Customer Service). If the controversy is widespread, consider addressing the issue in its own blog entry.
- Recognize when it’s time to step back. After a SeaWorld trainer died earlier this year, its Shamu Twitter account read “At this difficult time, @Shamu will not be active. For Twitter updates…” While most of us aren’t dealing with tragedy on this level on our corporate blogs, it’s an important lesson in knowing when it’s time to take a breather.
Controversy will rear its head on your corporate blog. Send your inner Grinch back to his cold, lonely cave and handle the criticism with forethought, professionalism, and courtesy. To learn more about investing in a team of seasoned brand advocates who will act as your online voice and handle controversy when necessary, contact Social Strategy1.