What are you afraid of? Launch a blog; people go negative on you, and you could lose some business, right? Why even give your critics a platform to be critical, or worse, bad mouth your company, brand, products, or services? Hey, doesn’t this fly in the face of everything we know about marketing, building brands, and protecting brand equity? Why concede an inch of space to detractors?
Why? Because if they have bad things to say about you, they’re already saying them and if they’re right, you probably are losing business. If they’re not using your social platform to gripe, they’re probably using another one, a bigger one, a louder one, and more public one. If you’re good, you probably don’t have enough detractors to lose any sleep over anyway. And depending on how you handle the negative, the implications for your brand could be positive. Case studies support this, for example, Dell’s ultimate response to the 22 Confessions of a Former Dell Sales Manager post and the “short skirt” incident that led to Southwest Airline’s blog posts and very public apology to a perceived “scantly-clad” passenger. Or check out the four-hundred plus comments to “Talk About a Crock”, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s response on their FastLane blog to a comment taken out of context regarding a statement he made on global warming. Blog readers seemed to shift the dialog with posts that frame and blame the negative comments as political while praising Lutz for his candor. They buried the critics. And make no bones about it. While Amway (let’s be frank, a company that has had its share of detractors from time-to-time) posts blog entries that essentially seem more like press releases from corporate communications, at least they’re pretty forthright in keeping debates lively with both the positive and negative comments.
So you get a few negative comments on your blog. Here’s why it just might be a positive.
- At least you get a measure of what people are saying.
- That’s a good thing. It might very well be “bull”, but you need to hear it. Perceptions ARE your reality.
- Whether they’re right or wrong, you have an opportunity to do something about it.
- Nothing like outside objectivity to open your eyes. If their criticism is valid, they’re probably not the only one experiencing and expressing dissatisfaction. Now you know, and now you can fix it. And if they’re wrong? You get to respond and set the record, if not them, straight. And suppose it’s one of those gray areas where there is no right or wrong? You make your case and present your position. Point is, you’re now involved in the discussion, not just the topic of a negative, one-sided one.
- The appropriate response might even earn you fans.
- Acknowledging a legitimate problem immediately and remedying it promptly will more likely earn you respect—and perhaps a few more fans. Nobody’s perfect. People usually appreciate candor, honesty, and the integrity that comes with doing the right thing.
- They can add credibility.
- Alternate viewpoints can validate your blog’s credibility. Sure, we’d like everyone says only nice things about us. But it’s not realistic. This is a dialog, a conversation, and exchange of opinions. It’s a blog. Most people get it.
- If you’re good, you can usually count on your fans to squash the detractors.
- There’s nothing like loyal fans to bury an issue. If your loyal customers are engaged and passionate, they’ll often put it to rest with their own reasons why your detractors are dead wrong.
Yes, there’s sometimes awful stuff out there on general and consumer social networks and in that universe, perhaps more risks. However, unless it’s a heated topic, I think you can usually count on a relatively higher degree of professionalism on B2B blogs. Sure, there may be disagreement and yes, differences of opinion. But at this level, most engaged are ultimately professionals are more likely keep the dialog that way.