“Social media is too dangerous. What if someone says bad things about us?”
What if I told you social media is the best medicine for negative feedback? Think about it: criticism is happening with or without a forum like social media. Wouldn’t you rather know about it, and be able to respond?
Better yet, turn the negative into a positive. Research has shown that responding to negative inquiries actually helps organizations improve their reputation. If you give the person complaining a little friendly attention, you can re-build bridges and even inspire glowing recommendations from them. Your best advocate can be the person you treated well despite their criticism.
Often times, their critique may be pointing to something your organization could do better. The public can sometimes spot things you can’t. So take a hard look at what they’re saying and use it as a tool to make your organization stronger. Don’t try to please everyone, but listen to your constituents and make an educated decision with their input.
Learn from your mistakes. Be humble, like The Hewlett Foundation was when they called their Neighborhood Improvement Initiative a failure and put out a report on what they learned and will do better next time. People respond well to humility and transparency.
So here are a few tips to take away from this:
- Invite feedback, positive or negative. Nonprofits are community organizations, so trust your community and they will trust you.
- When someone criticizes you publicly, respond as soon as possible in the same forum (Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.)
- Be polite and humble. Thank them for their input and let them know what you’ll do about it.
- Note: if the comment is just someone trying to cause trouble, don’t take it too personally. Here’s a simple write-up on how to identify internet trolls and what to do about them. Bottom line: don’t worry. Your real supporters can spot them and ignore them, too (or leap to your defense!).
Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. A savvy nonprofit organization can use it to their advantage and come out better for it. After all, social media is about engaging your supporters and giving them a voice to help you.
Engage me in the comments! Have you ever seen a negative feedback issue get out of control? Could anything be done to turn it around?