Don’t Send A Lamb Into The Slaughterhouse
Sometimes organizations make a decision the community hates.
They raise prices, they cancel services, they add/remove features etc…
The community manager is left to incur the wrath.
The community manager answers questions, apologies profusely, but has no power to resolve the situation. Their role is simply to pretend the organization is listening and members feel heard.
There are three problems with this. First, members care little for apologies. They want efficacy. They want to know their complaints had a ripple. They want to know they mattered and had an impact.
Second, it undermines the credibility and authority of the community manager. The community manager appears powerless. Members associate the community manager with the problem. They’re less responsive to the community manager in the future.
If you have to go negative, don’t send a lamb into the slaughterhouse. Send employees from the organization to go and directly interact with the community. Listen to members, solicit their ideas, see if there are things you can implement to change things.
Ideally, get the head of the company spending an hour or two answering questions from members. Members get to air their views and receive responses from someone with the power to make a difference.
It's not always possible to avoid upsetting the community. It is possible to limit the impact of that upset.