8/17 – When Communities Attack

Communities often times aren’t always puppy dogs and rainbows as any seasoned community manager knows.  People occasionally get fed up, have issues, band together, and revolt.   A good community manager will be able to use their arsenal of skills to head off any good attack.

This week’s chat was also co-piloted by the amazing Jessica Murray, Global Community Manager for @SocialMediaClub!   Thanks so much to her helping wrangle everyone in this amazing discussion!


Q1: Has anyone had issues with a member becoming uncooperative? What steps did you take in trying to resolve the issue?

Mitch_M It happens rarely but when it does 1st there’s a warning, then posts start getting deleted.

evanhamilton I’ve definitely had uncooperative users before. I tried to understand their issue and talk about it with them in private.

tmonhollon I think researching the issue should always be the first step. Also, tie into formal customer service team.

Thoora Often, issue stems from poor customer service + social is a way to vent publicly, used cust service team to help

JessicaRMurray  Yes, SMC has a few critics. Listen, Apologize & try to resolve reasonably. Often people just want to be heard & validated.

JPedde Try your best to speak with the individual offline. Maybe a phone call to apologize, ask what you can do better.

aajain Definitely. I’ve always tried to take it to one on one, but sometimes people just want a speakerphone.

tmonhollon Follow up: How important do you think it is to respond publicly that you’re taking care of the issue so community sees u care?

CourtneyCormier You could post a public response to the person, then message them privately to talk about other issues

JessicaRMurray Think it’s important to keep convo transparent until it escalates to certain point then take offline, to protect both parties

 SweeneySays I’d be wary of outright deleting things – seems like you’re trying suppress criticism that way.

kristiewells Try to deal with them openly, honestly, respectfully and in a timely manner to come to a resolution. Most will respond well


Q2: Do you have company guidelines in place to handle escalating issues? If so, what do they look like?

CATrio We have a ‘ready to respond’ matrix – outlines how/where to escalate issues. We’ve had few instances but it’s been helpful.

LovelyLu We have steps to follow…. we give enough education and support to keep it from having to “move up the lines”

ahicklin Breakout of responsibilities on social btween PR and customer service. All flagged/escalated my community manager.

ColeySorg Advice from past experience..Post guidelines for users & point to them frequently so users know how their conduct is evaluated

vargasl I blieve strongly in a playbook that workflows conversations and not tools/channels. This living/breathing documents pts direction

JessicaRMurray: Also imp to give CMs flexibility in what they can offer for guest recovery (discounts, waive fees, free goods

kristiewells  I think most successful ‘social’ companies empower more than one person to respond, from different departments.


Q3: What ways do you protect yourself/Co in case the situation goes south?

polleydan  I don’t know about protection, but being human/personable can help situation from going bad.

cashleelee Take the high road. always. LIVE on it.

kristiewells Management has to ensure people responding on behalf of their org are knowledgeable, adhere to code of conduct, understand soc nets

mediasres Learning to let the community itself come your defense is an important aspect of damage control.

JessicaRMurray Keep all correspondence w/ that person, take screen shots of any smearing they’re doing of your Co & must pull in higher ups.


Q4: Post-Uprising, what’s next? How do you do damage control?

marcusnelson: Re things going south: Have a solid MVP customer program. They’ll come to your aid & deflect critisism sometimes better than you

JessicaRMurray Make sure you’ve communicated with all affected customers. Don’t pat yourself on the back until you’re done.

evanhamilton Post-uprising, you better focus on avoiding similar issues. And work on some programs to show customers you appreciate them.

LovelyLu Always stick to the facts, do not post emotionally and don’t discount someone’s feelings, you can only challenge facts

vargasl Don’t get into the weeds in telling your side of the story, but be transparent abt how you are moving fwd & dealing w/issues

savvysarahjane Continue to be accountable & remember recovery is long term too. I think AirBnB is an example of a company in this stage now.

bencurnett Debrief. Take what you’ve learned and see where you can apply it to Q1-3.

lttlewys: The “3 sides to every online convo: your side, my side & side of everyone watching” from @MackCollier = dead on.


If you have any suggestions for future topics or comments about the above, leave them in the comment section!

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About the author

Jenn Pedde

Jenn is a Co-Founder of The Community Manager and the Editor-In-Chief. She’s also an adjunct professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. You can find her almost anywhere online, but specifically on #CmgrChat every Wednesday from 2-3pm ET.