I bang on a lot about people finding their voice online, saying what they think, and standing up for their views. This is fine when things are going well but what do you do when people don’t like what you are saying and find fault? No one likes being criticised and it can hurt. This is as true for people working for big organisations as it is for individuals – “Corporations don’t tweet people do”. There is always a person behind that tweet or blog post. Even if it is someone writing from within a big multi-national it is still a human being with feelings who presses “Update”.
Many of my clients work in high profile, sometimes contentious organisations with lots of people ready to find fault at the slightest excuse. Blogging on your own behalf is one thing but sticking your neck out for your employer isn’t trivial and the robust nature of online attacks can be intimidating.
So what do so if you come under attack online? Much of the available advice is aimed at the corporation as a whole as if we were talking about an entirely logical, dispassionate situation. While this might have been true when it was a case of issuing press releases into well worn channels it is different if we are talking about someone tweeting or blogging on behalf of their organisation. If they are any good they will have invested more of themselves personally in the situation and therefore feel more exposed and vulnerable.
What you have to do if this happens is no different from life generally. Look at the people who are being critical and weigh up the validity of what they are saying and the circumstances in which they are saying it. If there is something you need to learn from what they are saying then learn it and take it on the chin. If there isn’t then decide whether you are going to respond at all and if so how. Then you need to pick yourself up, get back on your horse and do it all again. You are never going to be able to keep everyone happy all the time and if you let criticism numb you and make you retire into your shell then we will all have lost something.