We’re Under Attack!
What do you do when a ‘fan’ posts a harsh criticism on one of your social media networks?
When you are active on social networks sooner or later a situation will arise where your brand will come under attack for all the wrong reasons. It just happened to me. So how did I react? My policy is, in almost every case, to leave the criticism up. That may strike some as counterproductive but, in fact, it can be quite the opposite. Let me illustrate by sharing such a situation that happened to me on my fine art Facebook Page.
A Little Background:
In preparing for a major move, I am currently donating art to legitimate animal rescues to help them fundraise. I was also considering having a sort of ‘garage sale’ in my barn for all the other flotsam we’ve collected over the yeas, including some of my own older unsold art pieces. I decided against the garage sale and posted a notice on my art page to that effect. A connection then wrote an absolutely scathing remark attacking my very core integrity as an artist and a professional misinterpreting my announcement as a discontinuation of the art for the rescues program I have underway.
Folks, it was bad. You can read it in its entirety here. But I very mindfully chose not only to leave it, but to highlight it in a blog post (keeping the writer anonymous there). Why? To allow my regular fans an opportunity to step in and help clear up the situation. Now, I could easily have done this, but if I had started going into explanations I would immediately started to sound defensive (which I would have been) and possibly disingenuous, because even the most carefully worded response to an outright attack can accidentally open the dialogue up pretty quickly into personal territory.
It’s Always Better to Let Your Peeps Represent You
…in these matters. They’re allowed to become righteously indignant (which mine did, bless ’em) and they don’t have to mince their words at all (which mine didn’t) and I (my brand) got treated to an amazing outpouring of support. From here the air clears and a solution can then extended – and everyone wins!
This only works if:
- you have built a solid foundation of trust with your regular fans and
- are assured that you aren’t misinterpreting the situation.
In this case, early on, several peeps weighed in and offered words to the effect that my “original post have been clear and there was no way to misinterpret what was going on”. That was a relief to see, because I have to be honest, I was pretty upset and not entirely certain I had’t messed up until they weighed in on that. Then they rallied around offering personal testimonies for my integrity, stated what they saw as the facts (and they were correct), and in some cases demanded (I’m not kidding) an apology.
What did I say?
I said the original program was still in effect and posted a link to it. Like this. No feedback. No, “I’m sorry you misinterpreted me…” just the plain announcement and the link; once under the diatribe, once on the main page feed. Then I blogged about it and posted a link to the blog on my wall as well. In the piece I explained what had happened, offered how bad it made me feel, and suggested maybe the writer was misinformed somehow. I kept her completely anonymous, and asked that if she read this that she go ahead and register for the giveaway with no hard feelings.
Some Fan Responses to my blog post:
- I don’t even know what to say that is appropriate for facebook. I’m so sorry there are people like this out there who have no idea what you’re about….your generosity, kindness, humor, joyfulness…
- Wow!! Just wow!! Baffles me how anyone could have possibly misunderstood your post to begin with as it was VERY clear. And then to respond is such a way??!! As my father would say….”who $hit in your pudding??”
- someone owes Marti a big fat apology.
- And this is why people need to read the whole thread before they fly off the handle.
- By the way Marti, there was nothing unclear about YOUR post about the barn sale question…
She checked in later that day and did apologize! She explained how she had come to be misinformed. My short and to-the-point response: Thank you, I hope you register soon! And I hope she does.
I feel great. I am so grateful to my fans for stepping up for me, for saying things I simply could not giving me a chance to leave a door wide open for the commenter to feel safe to step back in and end up feeling good too. To me, it’s a win, win, win.
Could it Have Gone South?
Yep. IF I had somehow not been clear in my original posts and had confused people. Then I would have owed the commenter an apology! Thats’ the nature of being public the way we are with our brands. We have to be forthright and as clear as possible no matter what. It’s not all as easy as it first seems, but it is always, always worth it.