campaign that VI was involved with, was the subject of critique in a local
blog. The blogger, whom I find quite entertaining on occasion, took their
information from a newspaper article announcing the public campaign.
Unfortunately, they misread/misinterpreted the article and made some wrong
assumptions. As such, they criticized the effort and reported their data
as factual. You might imagine how many persons who follow that blog
decided to chime in. Most of them assuming the incorrect information was fact
and posting their own reply (read: Pile on). Of course, the creative
product eventually took some hits. We felt compelled to reply with the
accurate information, but declined to address the creative comments – as this
is a subjective product and we didn’t see the merit of debating it.
Another respondent criticized our reply and the mere fact that we replied, as
poor marketing. A few other marketing professionals have also commented
in person that we should not reply to criticism.
I think there’s an assumption by many that brands should not respond to
negative blog posts. For some reason they believe that a brand manager
should just let the conversation go wherever it is going. We disagree. The beauty of social media is the two-way conversation. And like a
two-way street, sometimes people go in the wrong direction (maybe they got bad
direction like the original blogger in this story). When they aren’t
redirected, they end up very far off from reality.
We’ve reexamined our reply to this particular blog and are convinced that we
made the right call: Set the facts straight and stay away from the
subjective. Sure, there were additional comments to our post and we didn’t
respond to those. We did, however, invite anyone who wanted to discuss the
matter with us to call, e-mail, stop by – whatever. And since the facts
weren’t nearly as interesting as the rhetoric that preceded it, everyone moved
on pretty quickly.
Given an opportunity for a do-over, we'd handle it exactly the same way.