Originally posted on Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog
A few days ago I got a concerned Direct Message on Twitter from a friend of mine. Her company had been the benefactor of a very positive article on a Washington Post blog. That’s good. Unfortunately, commenters were attacking the business, based on the information contained in the article, which implied that the company didn’t provide health insurance to its workers. As many companies would be in this situation, this person was very upset and unsure of what to do next.
My advice to her is the same I will give to you. If you see negative comments on a blog/site, especially those based on inaccurate information, you need to address those comments. In this case, the negative comments seemed to be originating from the article’s implication that this company did not provide health insurance to its employees.
Prior to my friend Allison commenting, the post had 6 comments, all of which were either critical, or downright negative toward Hardwood Artisians. Allison did exactly what you should do if your company is coming under fire. She kept her cool, politely thanked the commenters for their feedback, and set the record straight about how the company handled providing health insurance to its employees. And she also did something else that’s very important; she invited commenters to continue to leave her feedback.
Hi, I’m the Director of Marketing for Hardwood Artisans.
Thanks to all the commenters for all the interest in Hardwood Artisans. I do have one quick correction, no fault of Tom’s. We’ve had health insurance available through the company since August of 2007. Employees can elect to take advantage of the company plan, but some have their own plans or get insurance through their spouses. Personally, I have the company plan.
If anyone would like more information or has more feedback, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post here. I’m always happy to answer questions.
When Allison left that comment, the entire tone of the conversation changed. Prior to Allison’s comment, 6 comments were left to the post about Hardwood Artisians, all of them were negative. After Allison’s comment, 11 other people commented, and ten of them were positive. Most even came to the defense of HA, and one commenter added: “Still, if nothing else, my hat is off to Alison for being willing to step into the lion’s den to answer questions”
As I told Allison, as soon as she joined the conversation and encouraged interaction, the tone of the dialogue changed from people throwing negative comments AT the company, to the commenters talking WITH Allison. And then Allison later blogged about the article on HA’s own blog.
What can you learn from how Allison handled this situation?
1 – If someone is leaving negative comments about your company, respond.
2 – Be thankful and polite. Nothing escalates a negative comment into a full-bore flamewar faster than an ‘Oh yeah?!?’ reply from the company.
3 – If commenters are jumping to the wrong conclusion about your company, kindly correct them with the proper information.
4 – Thank them for their feedback, and encourage them to provide more. Leave your email address so they can contact you off the blog, if they choose.
If you are thankful and respectful toward commenters, even those that are attacking your company, the end result will almost always be a positive experience. Allison’s experience isn’t the exception, it’s the norm.