Rules of engagement
Any organisation or individual with an online presence must consider how and when to best respond to blog posts and discussion, negative or positive. Otherwise you are effectively opting for the ‘head in the sand’ Ostrich approach. And not even Ostriches do that.
The fact is that the discussion (or Lion, perhaps, if we are to continue with the Ostrich analogy) remains, whether you acknowledge it or not, and ignoring it may put you or your organisation’s reputation in jeopardy.
This report by Emarketer makes interesting reading, showing how companies worldwide are using direct engagement. Even though it is the favoured method, only 47% of those surveyed are employing it.
A couple of years ago I saw the US Airforce’s clear rules of engagement set out for addressing online discussion of their organisation, the flow chart offers useful advice for any company or individual with an online presence, check it out at Globalnerdy.
Now Pfizer in Canada have taken the chart and developed it to suit their company, click for a full sized image:
See the blog of marketing4health for further information and a comparison of the two.
In my experience, working for campaigning charities for instance, a friendly and well informed response to an erroneous and/or negative posting can be very productive. Engaging with the author and offering a chance to discuss the issue, addressing their concerns or issues and at the same time informing them of facts relating to misunderstandings and/or negative perceptions leads to a positive outcome. At the very least, an outcome more positive than being eaten by a Lion you can’t see.