David Finch

David Finch

At some point in our engagement in the social media space we step out on a limb and push the buttons of those within the community. The push back of the community can be unbearable if you are not prepared.

It begins as a brilliant idea that sparks an emotional response. These emotions ignite a fire that spreads throughout the community.  With a comment on a blog, a stream of Twitter messages and even a video reply on YouTube the fires rage to what you thought was a good idea. Your good idea backfires and now you have to deal with the consequences of what happens when good ideas go astray.

Here are five simple steps to embrace your social media grief.

Denial
The first thing is to deny that the event has never taken place. We reread the comments and review what we’ve said, swearing that this couldn’t be happening to us. This denial can cause you to want to isolate yourself hoping that if you go away so will all this unsolicited pain. This stage has no time limit, however, it can last for just a few minutes or as long as you want to stay in the state of denial.

Anger
The next step of the grieving process is anger.  It’s at this phase that you start to feel victimized and angered that anyone would twist your idea or blow out of proportion the things that you’ve said. The anger can go two ways, both at the idiots that didn’t like your idea as well as blaming yourself for letting this happen.

Being angry can be good unless you hold on to it to long and then it becomes defeating. Enjoy being angry for a moment, but let it go and move on.

Bargaining
It’s at this phase that you try to work your used car salesman skills and start bargaining and negotiating. It’s also at this point that you begin to call your peers, send them direct messages and frantically search for your network of insiders to try to work their magic to help you make all this pain go away. Reality then steps in when you realize that your connections can only help so much.

Depression
This is the phase when you realize that you can’t pull enough strings to make it go away and all you can see is your social media currency losing it’s value and the social media community labeling you as the one who launched the brilliant idea that backfired. It’s at this point that depression sets in and all you see is helplessness.

However, if you can work through this phase the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than it has ever been.

Acceptance
The final step in this social media grieving process is accepting your action. It’s at this point that you’re no longer denying the fact that it happened. The anger levels have tapered off and depression has lost its grip on your thoughts and emotions.

This is when you accept that you can’t go backwards, but you can help clarify and rebuild any levels of trust that have been broken. It’s at this point that if you are honest and transparent you’ll regain respect even if the community never accepts your brilliant idea.

This is a process that no one wants to have to go through. However, if you live outside of the echo chamber and position yourself as a voice rather than an echo, the chance of being misquoted, misunderstood and misrepresented are more then likely to happen.

Having a response plan in place will help you tremendously and hopefully keep you from having to work through the five steps of social media grieving.

How have you dealt with enraged consumers that have deemed a piece of content controversial? Do you have a plan in place to deal with damage control?

What are your thoughts?

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About David Finch

David Finch

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