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7 Tips to manage online critics

24 Gennaio 2014

Following are seven tips for managing the critics online.

Create an internal policy. Everyone on your team—both internally and externally—needs to understand what your policy is for managing critics online. A bad situation can be made worse by a well-intentioned employee or external partner who doesn’t understand your policy. The policy should lay out who will respond to critics, what they’ll say, how quickly they’ll respond, and what to do if someone not authorized to comment sees or receives a comment.

Be cautious. When dealing with critics, particularly if they’re anonymous, you don’t know how severe the reaction could be or how successful they may be in creating an online crisis involving hundreds or thousands of others. A good rule of thumb is to publicly say you hear them and you’d like to discuss offline. Then take it to the phone or in person. Get it out of writing so you can hear the tone of voice or see body language. Don’t get defensive or engage in a back-and-forth debate online.

Assume the best. Even if you think the answer is obvious or right in front of their face, sometimes the critic is misinformed, doesn’t know where to look for the information on your site, or may be unwilling to search. When they complain about the obvious things, be helpful, pleasant, and non-defensive. You should never assume malicious intent until you’ve covered the obvious.

Consider the medium. Unless you run a sports, religious, or news site, it’s unlikely anonymous trolls will want to spend their every waking moment criticizing you. So keep your goals in mind. Consider the medium of the criticism and the message of the critic. If it’s directly on your blog or on Facebook, it’s far more difficult to ignore than in a tweet.

Deleting posts. While deleting posts may remove the damage for the time being, when people discover you’re doing so, they’ll take you to task for that… and it won’t be pretty. Consider a politician who lies about his affair. Soon enough we all find out; cue news conference, with his family standing next to him, to admit the affair he lied about for months. It’s far worse to be found out later than to attempt to ignore it to begin with. And, when you’re transparent about your blemishes, an amazing thing happens: Your community comes to your defense and the critics sulk away.

Use common sense. Take your corporate hat off and think like a human being. No one wants to be talked to in corporate jargon or to be showered with pre-approved PR messages. Be understanding, listen, and make things right. Don’t act like a robot that can only repeat one or two messages. Use common sense when responding. Ask yourself if the critics have real complaints or they’re someone just harassing you. If it’s the former, be patient and give the person time to vent their frustrations.

Have a written external policy. The policy should describe when you will delete comments or ban critics, and establishes the tone of the conversation allowed on the site. For instance, the policy at Spin Sucks is that you can’t swear (we’ll edit out the swear words if you do) and the discourse must be professional. We once had a troll who copied and pasted his rude comment to the top of the stream every time the community pushed it down. He had been responded to, so we told him that if he continued to do that, his comments would be deleted and he would be banned. He stopped doing it. The written policy helps you moderate the conversation in a professional but open way.

It’s a very uncomfortable position to be in. None of us want to be criticized.

But, as the saying goes, if people either love you or hate you, you’re doing something right.

By Gini Dietrich

Source: allbusiness.com