A few weeks ago, I committed the cardinal sin of community managers: a grammar mistake. Bad grammar may not seem as terrible as, say, a broken link (which also happened to me during the ‘apostrophe week’ as I’m affectionately calling it). But it is. Oh, it is.
The reason it’s worse is because it makes you hate your job. At least mine did. Let’s back track a bit and explain the situation. I had scheduled a post for a holiday on a Friday before the holiday weekend. In my haste, I probably wasn’t being as thorough as I should have with my copy. I was feeling burnt out and tired and just wanted to disconnect.
After a refreshing weekend, I came back on Tuesday to something along these lines:
“Please have someone literate check your copy before post. No apostrophe – it’s a simple plural. This is 4th grade English and a major company just ought to know better. Time to go buy another brand…”
Really, dude? My first reaction was to bitch this lady out for all her grammar mistakes (which I didn’t include for privacy reasons). The fact that I couldn’t do that just made things worse. I had to swallow my pride and apologize for the mistake. And actually thank her for pointing it out.
For the rest of the day I completely despised my job. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to pull analytics. I didn’t want to moderate. I wanted to flip every single one of our fans the bird and call it a day.
Unfortunately, I can’t do that if I want to keep my job and reputation. So I had to address a question many community managers face too often: how do you deal with community backlash on a personal level?
First off, give yourself a break. Step away from the community and the situation and take some time for yourself. Spend time writing something personal – a blog, part of your soon to be released romance novel, whatever – to get your mind off how much people can suck.
Second, tell a friend who is not a community manager about the situation. They will ( if they are a rational, normal person) laugh hysterically at the situation and give you some perspective on just how ridiculous the user who gave you crap about an apostrophe is. This will remind you that there is a world outside of social media and you shouldn’t let it bring you down.
Lastly, remember: it’s just a job. As CM’s we tend to become freaskishly attached and invested to our community. It’s necessary to be a good CM. But it’s just as necessary to know that this is only a job, not who you are. And users’ responses to your CM identity is not a response to you as a person. Because if the real me had responded that apostrophe bitch this would be an entirely different blog post about my epic firing.
Now go crack open a bottle of two-buck Chuck, turn on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and and enjoy the real you, who no user can get to.
How do you deal with community backlash? Share your advice and save me from future personal breakdowns in the comments.