Ning has finally posted the comments attached to its CEO's blog post explaining the change in business strategy from last week. Over 250 comments have appeared.
Lessons from this communications crisis are:
1. Be quick. Response and allow conversation on your own website, otherwise the conversation will take place on other websites.
2. Respond. Even if you don't have a plan, or all the details in hand, make sure you respond to your audience and journalist community. Scott Monty from Ford has the rather famous case study of checking in with his community once a communications crisis erupted over a cease and desist from Ford lawyers to a Ford products website. He quickly told the audience, hey, let me find out what's going on and get back to you. Ning was caught out because their internal memo was released. But the ensuing silence for a day or two helped to fan the flames of frustration with the company. Ning's blog post helped in the sense there was some information, but he wrote that he would not be talking again for several weeks. As Ning is a social media company many customers and social media experts will expect Ning to respond more quickly than they have.
4/20/10: 9:41pm Seems as if I spoke too soon, my apologies to the folks at Ning, it looks as if they have been more active in getting the word out about their news on dropping the free service on Ning. Dan York points to the Ning Creators network, where a Ning employee posted an updated on April 15th.