Complainers and Blog Comments

Two more posts from my reading of Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Wb 2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize, and Engage Youth, by Ben Rigby. On pages 51-52, Beth Kanter (make sure to check out her blog) wrote Overcoming the Barriers to Blogging – a between-the-chapters essay, answering some common objections to blogging. One is this: “What if a blog reader complains about our organization so that everyone can read it? What if their complaint is not based on facts or the truth?”

Beth’s answer: “Truth be told, people are going to complain, and complaints aren’t always based on the facts. But isn’t it better that you hear from your constituents so that you can (1) address their perceptions directly and (2) use their comments as an opportunity for free market research?”

My library’s digital branch allows commenting without up-front moderation. We think of it almost like a controlled room – we can listen to all the discussions, and we can correct them when needed. People WILL complain and get facts wrong. If you provide an easy-to-use discussion space on your organization’s blog, you have an opportunity to hold conversations with your customers – and you can correct them and explain what’s REALLY going on when needed. Much better to supply a controlled place to air complaints than to let them be aired elsewhere (like the local newspaper’s editorial section) where you DON’T have any say in the matter, or even in your response.

I’d also go a couple steps further than that, and subscribe to some ego feeds for your organization. I have set up Google Alerts, Technorati searches, and Summize searches for variations on my library’s name. They come to my Google Reader inbox, and I can scan through them and respond or pass the info along when needed. It takes next-to-no time to do, and it’s a way to digitally “meet” your customers in their favorite hangouts.

Real conversations. Real useful. And we can easily respond. This is a no-brainer!