How not to Internet
Last weekend, a Facebook user in Nova Scotia detailed an encounter he had with residents of Seven Lakes Community, a community development located on Bell Lake.
In the post, the user said he had gone to the lake, which is a public space, to play hockey with his son.
While there, he was harassed by a couple of residents who told him it was their lake and he should leave.
The Facebook user shot some video of the interaction and the internet did what it does.
Seven Lakes Community Facebook posts quickly filled up with comments expressing displeasure with the actions of the couple and requesting an explanation and apology.
You can see where this is going, right?
For a while, whoever administers the Seven Lakes Facebook page deleted these comments.
Never a good look.
Nearly 24 hours later, a statement was posted on its Facebook page that left a lot to be desired.
It was a somewhat huffy, officious post that referred to the situation as 'unfortunate,' but contained no apology, no details of steps it would take to address issues raised, nor anything that could be seen as helpful at all.
Instead, it took pains to emphasize previous damage to the area, that the development's roads are private, and that phase two of the project would have a public parking area, all while expressing it is moving ahead with development and integration with the 'community.'
In other words, a self-serving statement.
And it did not go over well.
To Seven Lakes' credit, they do not seem to have deleted replies to this post, most of which noted the lack of apology or intent to address the situation.
Hours later, the Seven Lakes page posted an apology from the Seven Lakes Community Condo Board Facebook page, which sprang to life only yesterday.
That apology is a step in the right direction.
But the fact it technically comes from a 'third-party,' combined with the continued lack of insight on how Seven Lakes is working to prevent such incidents from reoccurring, means it is still not quite enough.
If there are any lessons to take away from Seven Lakes Community's handling of this situation it is this:
Get out in front of any unfolding situation that reflects negatively on you or your organization.
Apologize directly and sincerely for the situation without whataboutisms or grievances or any other compromising messaging.
Do not start deleting comments on your Facebook page to bury criticism.
And speak to the actions you will take to ensure that any incidents, errors, or other issues are resolved or will not happen again.
Because anything less than that compromises your brand integrity and invites more criticism.