What To Do When Online Adversity Hits You Smack In The Face

(…and you haven’t even had a sip of your morning coffee)

One of the intimidating factors businesses face when engaging in a social media strategy is the potential for negative press and/or the differing opinions that arise in relation to an expertise or strategy. Buzzing through the social media networks last Friday, I happened to see Hubspot’s Website Grader hitting Sphinn, specifically in reference to an article, “Why Website Grader is a Bad Idea“. Since KoMarketing Associates has worked with Hubspot on a joint strategy with one of our clients, I am aware of their products/web applications and naturally, the story caught my eye. Whether or not you agree with either party, the discussion shows why the people over at Hubspot are intelligent online marketers and what you can learn from the situation, particularly when your company, website or opinion is challenged with adversity online.

Dealing With Social Media Adversity

About Being Proactive
The first story I saw on Sphinn was actually Dharmesh’s rebuttal post from their blog, in response to Michael Gray’s post on Website Grader. We often talk to client’s about the value of blogging as it relates to obtaining inbound links, content generation and improving the overall website presence. Another real value to business blogging strategy is that you have a (potentially) more effective way to communicate to the audience online; the audience that is talking about your company and brand right now.

The social media environment acts and reacts incredibly quickly. If your business is faced with adversity, regardless of information accuracy, blogging allows your company to communicate directly back to the applicable audience, in a way that press releases, newsletters and other traditional methodologies are simply less effective at.

Getting Involved in the Conversation
Instead of sitting at his desk, hoping that everything got swept under a table or in a dark corner, Dharmesh got involved in the conversations that were happening online immediately, explaining the positioning of the product and the company’s point of view. Businesses must be actively contributing to the conversation – in a positive way – by disseminating the arguments and communicating effectively and appropriately. On the flip side (i.e., you don’t really have a leg to stand on), do your best to understand the arguments made and make an effort to use this information to improve your product or service. Be honest and upfront, not only about any mistakes or failure in judgment, but in the feasibility for change in a given timeframe.

In this case, the discussion not only was made at Small Business Hub and Graywolf’s SEO Blog, but also to the readership at Sphinn (through the rebuttal submission and the commenting system within the site). It’s very important to track the conversation so that you understand where the audience is located, because once something catches fire, there’s usually a couple more places where smoke will be found.

Stay Professional in Your Discussion
It’s easy to get defensive when someone calls you out online or questions what you are doing. Rather than throwing stones, getting involved in a discussions means understanding each other’s points of view and presenting intelligent, well constructed arguments. If you have a point, and can present it effectively (and without hostility), you’re more likely to receive quality feedback verses making enemies and/or severing potential relationships.

Reacting inappropriately may just make the situation worse and/or create a more negative impression towards your image (and your company’s).

Get Help From Your Friends
While we haven’t actually talked to the folks at Hubspot about this discussion, but it’s better to harness your network than to simply go at it alone. There’s a reason blogging, social communities and networking sites are popular in today’s online environment, and part of the reason is because you can meet people whom share your opinions, interests and ideas. Get feedback on the topic from people you respect and if you’re really right, do what you can to get a voice of support from those parties as well.

Last Points On This Topic Related to SEO and Social Media
Maybe Website Grader is awful or maybe it’s the best SEO tool out there; I’ll let you make create your own opinions about that. For whatever reason, 100,000 people thought it was at least interesting enough to try and it shows me two things:

  • If you create a tool that users find of value, you’re going to get publicity in the places that matter and/or hit a wider range of audiences, maybe even from places like here (or here)
  • But once you get noticed, you need to be prepared to listen, contribute (maybe defend) and react, through both your communication online and the development of your products, services and brand going forward.

If you’re effective at these two things, not only will you get the benefits of the inbound links (which are critical to search engine optimization), but maybe you’ll also get to create quality relationships with professionals and networks you’ve never really had access to or an opportunity to connect with.

And I’d sacrifice my morning coffee for the chance to do that any day of the week.

“The team at KoMarketing was great at listening to our organization’s needs to ensure they were on the same page with goals and objectives. They provided a clear path for getting to desired results, were fast and flexible when adjustments were needed and above all else, provided the highest level of client service. KoMarketing is a pleasure to partner with!”

Melissa Sopwith — Melissa Sopwith, Marketing Manager, Guidon Performance Solutions, a Teletech Company

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