What should Sarah Palin learn from the Air Force?


It seems like you can’t go two seconds now without hearing someone recommend social media marketing for your business website. The friendly side of social media seems straight-forward to any entrepreneur: it’s fun, and you interact with your customers while receiving lovey-dovey feedback on how great your product is.

But what happens when people have some not-so-nice things to say about you online? For example, on Facebook?

You COULD delete negative posts on your Facebook page, but something like this might happen. In this case, Sarah Palin (while probably a little higher profile than most of us) unfortunately ran into an audience motivated to reveal EVERYTHING commentors posted on her page.

To be fair, several of the deleted comments were completely inappropriate – yet many of the deleted comments were simply polite disagreements. John Dickerson of Slate.com explores this in a post-deletion letter from Alfred Petross: “I just wish you would listen to me as a resident of the 3rd Congressional District. All I am doing is voicing my opinion and my posts keep getting deleted….” (These comments were then deleted.) “Having my posts deleted were extremely disappointing,” says Petross, who went on to post his letter to Palin on his Facebook page, “because I was under the impression that Sarah Palin was in fact a political activist who was all about hearing the opinions and voices of the constituents of the United States.”

The Lesson: Deleting everything that doesn’t bring a sparkle to your eye might not be the best strategy.

Instead, take a hint from the United States Air Force – who are surprisingly on top of their social media game. Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker of Spin Sucks took a closer look at their tried and tested rules of engaging with responders. The Air Force even released their official flowchart cheat sheet!


Here are 3 key criteria the Air Force uses any social media response:
1) Transparency – disclose who you are, and your connection to the organization
2) Timeliness – take the time to create a well thought out response
3) Tone – respond in an manner that reflects appropriately on yourself and your business

For businesses, it’s completely normal for the social media honeymoon to end at some point. However, having a response strategy (including a couple of these tips) will hopefully prepare you for that day if it comes. Good luck!