I spoke with a friend today who is thinking about how his business could use blogging to support their marketing and communications. Much of our conversation centred on the potential pitfalls of engaging with bloggers – it seems that we can be quite a scary bunch. I was reminded of a part of our conversation at the business blogging workshop around when it is appropriate to respond to positive or negative comment on blogs and discussion boards.

Well, the US Air Force have a blog and, as you might expect, a detailed plan of how they approach their engagements with bloggers. In the first instance, the blog is a great example of a serious organisation that is able to present a more human face to the outside world through blogging. Their most recent post for example encourages Air Force personnel or members of the public to share photos they may have of a volcano in Alaska, to help the force in their preparations for a potential eruption. This is a really nice, and simple, way to encourage participation not only with the blog, but with the core activities of the organisation.

But what I really want to share is this, the US Air Force’s rules of engagement with bloggers:

air_force_web_posting_response_assessment1

I found this on Global Nerdy’s blog, and  you’ll find a few other useful links there including a link to a pdf version of the chart.

For the Air Force, as for businesses, it may not always be appropriate to respond to comment on blogs and boards. This chart at least helps to pinpoint the likely decision points for a business. Personally I tend to err on the side of answering in the majority of situations, but it is fair to say that sometimes you’re probably better off not.

I’m particularly interested in the five considerations they take into account when formulating a response. Be transparent – let people know who is responding and on behalf of whom. Give your point of view but back it up with references to your sources of information. Respond in a timely manner, but don’t rush in two feet first. Ensure that the tone reflects the “heritage” of your organisation. I’m not sure I understand the last point but it seems to be saying that responses should be prioritised based on the influence of the blogger/site in question.

Plenty there to get a discussion in Ireland going.