How To Handle Negative Blog Comments

If you’ve ever written a blog post, read a blog, or had an opinion on anything in the blogosphere at all, chances are you’ve encountered a negative comment. In some cases, the vitriol of negative comments are the driving force behind the blog itself (see also: Gawker Media, Inc.), but, in my opinion, constant snark does not a credible blog make.

Balanced is the key word here; incorporating both the yin and yang of the blogosphere. You don’t want a blog that reads like an overly processed, censored corporate document. The rough edges are what give blogs the patina of authenticity that attract readers. But too much negativity, and your blog can seem petty and immature.

Negative comments make people nervous. Perhaps you care less when someone tells you that they hated the post you wrote on your personal blog about your cats, but when someone is knocking your brand, or worse, a brand for whom your services have been contracted, it takes a strong stomach to let those comments ride. But trust me, it’s worth it. A few negative comments are not going to be the undoing of your company, and in fact, can be a strong opportunity to prove yourself.

Below are a few helpful tips for how and why to handle negative blog comments.

  • Don’t Delete – Much as you may be tempted, don’t automatically delete every negative comment. People will sense that your blog has been wiped clean and resent the censorship. Leaving negative comments shows that you respect other people’s perspectives and opinions. They, in turn, will have more respect for yours.
  • Respond – Take the time to respond to comments left about your brand, and respond promptly. People will respect you for not ducking away from the fight. Additionally, people have an easier time being nasty about some amorphous, faceless company. If you give them a human face, chances are they’ll be more inclined toward a respectful interaction. You can keep tabs on comment mentions of your product or brand by using Backtype, which, according to Brian Chappell, is an excellent comment tracking tool.
  • Be Honest – Don’t say something that you’re unsure of or make promises you can’t keep. Because if you do, and you are later proven wrong or “found out,” that will destroy your credibility and can seriously damage your reputation. Don’t be that girl!
  • Be Humble – You don’t know everything, and readers know that. Make sure you approach the situation with that in mind. Consider the comments that people are making; could you be wrong? Is there some part of what they are saying that you could use to refine your product/business/service? Even though it’s difficult, try and leave your defensiveness behind and see what information can be gleaned from the exchange.
  • Moderate – Just because you’re committed to letting people have their opinions, doesn’t mean that you have to let them run rampant. If someone is leaving harassing comments full of expletives, then clearly it’s time to engage the delete button. That’s the kind of stuff that ruins someone’s credibility, and other readers will ignore their sentiment anyway.

And if you’ve really got a sense of humor, you can do what Pizzeria Delfina did and turn your negative into a positive. Or at least some pretty hilarious reading material for your customers.

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7 Comments
  • Ryan
    Posted at 17:23h, 23 March

    I actually had to deal with this for the first time a couple weeks ago: http://bschoolblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/hire-american-first/

    Mostly tried to follow your advice. Good tips.

  • DSE901
    Posted at 04:16h, 26 March

    I agree with most of your points, however I would caution against engaging the enemy. There are plenty of trolls who post hateful comments just to incite a fight. The more you try to reason with them, the worse they get.

  • JustinSMV
    Posted at 00:48h, 28 March

    Responding to comments is a great way to control the negative comments but sometimes you do have to delete if they are really un-called for like racisim

  • barrydalton
    Posted at 18:16h, 21 October

    Olivia,
    Great info. I clicked through here from Lauren’s blog from Radian6 on this topic. I offered the same comment over there.

    From a corporate perspective, since I’m a big process guy, I would add that these recommendations need to be implemented in the context of an overall logical engagement process flow. For example, a simple model should include three high level steps: assess the blog, assess the post, develop an appropriate response. Is it just a brand bashing site? Does the blog have a significant readership or influence? Is the post just a rant or does it have substance? Was the post a result of a personal negative experience or issue that may indicate a more serious product liability risk or is it just hearsay?

    Systematically answering these questions will help organize the flow of response, the type of response and whether a response is even required.

    Hope that’s additive.

  • Jones Wright
    Posted at 06:44h, 25 December

    Any
    successful business is likely to become the target of negative reviews,
    attacks, or even outright smears, from disgruntled customers, competition, or
    personal enemies.
     

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:18h, 17 May

     I would caution against engaging the enemy. There are plenty of trolls who post hateful comments just to incite a fight.

  • bestledcompany
    Posted at 16:18h, 17 May

     I would caution against engaging the enemy. There are plenty of trolls who post hateful comments just to incite a fight.

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