There’s an incredibly interesting, and poignant, conversation occurring on the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Page on Facebook.
A chamber that showcases members spotlight-style received some criticism from a person who wanted to see more diversity in the businesses they highlight. The person is not a member and the chamber does not know her.
What would you do in this situation?
Deleting a Comment on a Chamber Social Media Profile
The chamber professionals audience was split on how to handle this situation. There are actually two issues at stake — the perceived diversity criticism and how to handle a potential PR issue on a hot-button topic. Here’s a summary of the conversation and the options you have in a situation like this:
Delete and Ignore
On some social media platforms you have the option of deleting it; some you can only hide the comment. Others you can report the poster. Deleting or ignoring is always an option in some form but I urge you not to for a couple of reasons.
- Facebook “grades” you on the amount of time it takes you to answer a question.
- Not answering can cause the person to escalate in the same way a child who doesn’t get your attention looks for ways get noticed.
The act of deleting can become a bigger issue than the comment/question itself. Suddenly not only is your chamber refusing to showcase minorities, but you’re covering it up as well. Now your deletion or unwillingness to talk about it has proved you guilty in the court of public opinion.
In this particular situation it’s more important than ever to respond. Minorities may feel disenfranchised and marginalized. To not respond to an accusation of certain segments of the business community being underrepresented furthers their point.
Maybe the poster s correct in her criticism, maybe it’s unfounded, but why not use this opportunity for connection versus widening the perceived divide? Ashley Stevenson from the group suggested, “It could be an opportunity to reach out to those businesses with help from <the poster>. Ask her if she’d be willing to meet and help you bridge that gap. Making the response public of course. If this is part of a bigger issue then you could create a multicultural committee that works in collaboration to help you.”
What About Trolls?
Trolls are people who leave negative comments around the web. Often they know little about your business. They are simply sowing discontent. Some people see no reason to answer a “troll” comment. While you are perfectly within your rights not to respond to a troll, it’s important to note trolls don’t come with a troll union card. You don’t know with certainty they are trolls, and worse, people reading your page have no idea the person is a troll. Writing off someone as a troll is risky behavior.
Enjoy the Gift
The conversation among the chamber professionals on this topic is extremely interesting because you’re able to see the differences in how people frame social media commentary. Often criticism is considered negative but Cheryl Millsaps from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has a different way of looking at it. “Negative feedback may be hard to hear but is a gift. For every person who makes a statement like this, there may be many others thinking it but too polite to say anything. Just as we are sometimes surprised to learn how other people perceive us personally, the perception of our chamber that we hear from the echo chamber of our engaged members is likely very different than the general opinion in the community, if they think of us at all.”
Take some time to read the exchange on the Facebook group and add your input.
Interested in this topic?
Here is a free chamber-specific resource for you…