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View from BlogWorld Expo 2009

Last Thursday I spoke on a panel at BlogWorldExpo (#bwe09) entitled “Social Secure-ity: Managing Your Brand’s Online Reputation.” Audience questions drove the discussion; I managed to jot down some of the audience questions/ panelist responses and have compiled them below.


In my role at Scout Labs, I have seen a wide range of corporate responses to these questions, as I’m sure had the other panel participants- Connie Bensen of Techrigy, Amber Naslund of Radian6, Melyssa Plunkett-Gomez of Crimson Hexagon, and Aubrey Podolsky of Sysomos.


Thinking back on it later in the day, a lot of this advice just isn’t useful with some resources and corporate commitment to social media- and from the tone of many of the questions, resources and commitment are still an issue. There’s no doubt that social media is here to stay whether or not companies want to “formulate a response.” The real question is which companies are going to recognize that better understanding their customers through social media is a source of competitive advantage- whether they decide to turn Twitter into a customer service channel or not.


From a travel industry representative from Las Vegas: How should we deal with negative criticism? How should we respond to it?

    • There will always be negative criticism. Develop a framework for what you need to respond to from a business perspective, and try not the take the rest too personally.

    • There are trolls and there are people with genuine issues. You can’t please the trolls, so don’t try.

    • Your social media presence can and should be about more than damage control to the brand.

    • Let the community respond on your behalf.

  • Get ahead of the negative criticism- change the business so that consumers aren’t complaining!


David Spinks, a community manager, asked about the importance of responding to content on sidewiki:

  • The sources of feedback are multiplying and will continue to do so. Very few brand manager have the time to respond to every single last comment anyone has ever made on any platform. If Sidewiki gets more traction in the market, vendors like the ones on the panel will eventually help marketers figure out how to track and respond to it. Right now it’s a small blip on a crowded radar screen.

A gentleman who works for a hedge fund asked what to when everyone hates you:

    • Having a social media presence can help humanize the brand or the industry, and demystify what it is that hedge funds do for the economy

    • Whose opinion are you trying to influence, and why? Make sure you know and have the resources to follow through before you set your social media strategy- there are some inconsistent, useless attempts at building a community out there, and they’re not helping the brands they represent

    • If you do something for your community that does not directly serve your own interest- for instance publishing free analyst repots- it build brand goodwill

  • If they care enough to hate you, they may care enough to love you. There are things the company does that would help them to love you. Make people aware of them.

Kat French asked for thoughts on what to do about clients who only focus on the negative:

    • Reframe the conversation through competitive analyses- what do people love or hate about your competitors? It’s myopic to only focus on the negative posts about your own brand

  • Another way to reframe is to focus on the positive- what is it that customers like about the brand? What strengths can the brand build on? This is the long term strategic response to negative feedback- not just a crisis communications plan

Tracy Schmidt from ChicagoNow asked a question about policies for employee participation in social media:

    • Have a policy in place helps guide employee behavior- and know that there will still be problems. Be prepared to deal with them as decisively as any other personnel problem

    • Employees are trusted to have email addresses and phones- they are already representing the company. Employee behavior is a hiring and training issue, not a social media issue. If an employee can’t be trusted, they can’t be trusted

  • Employee trust is an enormous issue for every organization. Social media is forcing massive organizational changes on companies, ones that are really challenging for managers and employees. This is a big change for everyone involved and training is crucial.

Last was a great question on how to deal with franchises, where much feedback comes about individual franchisees that impacts the overall brand:

  • Monitoring customer satisfaction/ ability to meet corporate requirements is already a part of franchising. Extending that to social media will become a corporate function.

And Lacey Kemp from Seattle, I got your name but not your question- ask it again here and I’ll do my best to answer you!


I found it encouraging that there were a fair number of B2B marketers at the session- leveraging social media is just as crucial for them as it is for the B2C brands, if not more so, and they rarely get the same level of media love.

Some other memorable sessions at BlogWorldExpo were the ROI smackdown- very smart thinking and good examples from Deb Micek, Rob Kay, Beth Harte, and Stephanie Agresta- and the Real Time Web session from the ever thoughtful Louis Grey. The sessions were all taped and will theoretically available online at the conference site but I don’t see the links up yet. Much thanks to Jason Falls for organizing.


Previously posted on on Oct 19, 2009

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