Social Media – Handling Online Criticism

Once again, dear blog snorkellers, never let it be said that I don’t give you anything of any value. Here’s a piece which I came across recently, which is entitled “For Nonprofit Organizations: How To Handle Online Criticism” (As you can see from the errant and offensive ‘z’, it’s an American post.) Don’t be put off by the whole ‘Nonprofit’ bit (if you’re not a nonprofit), the meat of the article applies across the board. It is a long and lengthy piece, stuffed full of links, so it takes a bit of time, but it contains good thinking on the topic.

For the sake of clarity, I am not a fan of social media as a commercial marketing or communications tool. I think it is overrated and overvalued, and that far too much is being made of it by people who do not understand (for who can) where it is going, how it will develop and what effects (if any) it will have on the way people make purchasing decisions.

The one thing that I am certain of, however, is that social media will cause and trigger more problems than it solves. The very fact that anyone, anywhere – if they have internet access – can post anything is going to lead to trouble. It’s the whole ‘infinite number of monkeys, with an infinite number of typewriters’ deal, only in this case an infinite number of surfers with an infinite number of fora are unlikely to produce the complete works of Shakespeare – more likely the sort of chaos that is created by the complete works of any local council’s department of works.

But what is guaranteed is that with complete freedom of expression comes a complete range of opinion – including the bitter, twisted, isolated and disturbing – and some of that opinion will be critical. And if that critical opinion gains critical mass – rightly or wrongly – very quickly (very quickly indeed) it will be everywhere.

How you deal with that criticism – the speed with which you do so, the manner in which you do so, the content that you use – will reflect upon your enterprise, business, organisation or brand and – in fact – offers an opportunity to amass valuable reputational credits.

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