If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Originally posted on the IABC Calgary blog.

The organization I work for has been pretty involved in social media for about eight months now, and as a result, we are being mentioned in online conversations. As I said in my previous post, we deal with a lot of different stakeholders, including landowners, who may not always be happy with us. So how should we respond if someone says something negative about us on a social media platform? How important is it for us to get our defences up and reply to a negative tweet or wall post?

Like any good organization using social media, we developed a response matrix. This is basically a guide to determine how and when you should respond to anything said about you on a social media site. The United States Army created a really great one for responding to blog posts, but the concept can be applied to a post or comment on any social media platform (click here to view the US Army matrix).

Now that you know how you should respond to different types of posts about your organization, it’s time to get involved in the conversation. At my organization, we don’t always say much in response to things people post about us. Why? Most of the time they are just trying to get us riled up, and there isn’t really any point in responding. It won’t be a constructive or meaningful conversation, and, like any organization, we don’t have the time or manpower to engage in this type of conversation. However, if someone has a question about our organization, or has an incorrect piece of information, we try to answer or correct them as soon as we can. In the case of Twitter, we usually try to answer a question or correct misinformation through a direct message, rather than a tweet the whole world can see. This gives the added benefit of being able to provide a link to the source of the correct information.

One great new technique I recently learned about is “trans-media storytelling.” This is when you respond to a question or inquiry in a different way than it was asked. For example, if someone posts a question on your organization’s Facebook page, and the answer is not easily explained in writing, you could make a quick video – it doesn’t need to be fancy or “produced” – to answer the question. Then, you can post the video on your Facebook and/or YouTube page and direct the person to that video for the answer.

Just as you don’t respond to spam or negative comments on your personal social media pages, you don’t need to respond to the “trolls” when it comes to your organization. Remember to be honest and transparent in everything you post, but also remember to keep it classy.


One thought on “If you don’t have anything nice to say…

  1. Great article. I think this matrix can be used not only in business, but as a guide to how we handle our own personal media, and social situations.

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