One of the recurring fears many companies have about going social is that people may abuse their online identity. Disgruntled customers or ex-employees now have a profile online where they can tell the world what your company is really like. If you are writing blog posts, they can comment telling everyone that you really don’t have a clue.
This is a constant fear for executives new to blogging or using social networks, however it can be easily managed. When you do receive blog comments or comments on your social network activity there are really just three choices to be made; respond, delete, or ignore.
- If you receive genuine abuse or threats then report the perpetrator to the relevant authorities, the police if it is very serious or just to the owner of the social network if less so – and delete the abuse (after taking a screen capture just for your own records).
- If you receive a criticism about an opinion you expressed online or about your service then DO NOT ever delete it – answer the criticism. You might feel that it looks bad to see people criticising you online, but it looks far worse if you start deleting every negative comment because people will immediately realise what you are doing and suddenly the story will be that you want to censor all comment about your company. You cannot silence critics, so engage with them and answer the criticism directly. Don’t forget, it’s transparent so others will see you answering the critics and may well support your views.
- If a comment does not add value to the debate or is clearly a bit crazy – without being offensive – you can just ignore it without being concerned that people will think it is strange for you to not engage on an irrelevant topic.
A very simple approach like this can deal with almost all situations and defines very clearly when to engage and when to ignore the abuse.
Photo by Maciek Łempicki licensed under Creative Commons