Transparency and participation are hallmarks of today’s Web, but what do organizations and individuals do when users leave negative comments on blogs, social networking websites, message boards, etc.? According to JupiterResearch, only 12% of Internet users have left negative comments about a company or product online, however, these people tend to be influencers and so this is a valid concern. Here are some suggestions for dealing with the negative.
- Stay Informed. Monitor your blog comments and social networking profiles so that you are aware if you have received negative feedback and can be ready to respond to it. Run periodic Technorati vanity searches (search for your url) to see what people in the blogosphere are saying about you.
- Moderate with Discretion. You have the ability to moderate comments on your own blog, but bear in mind that if you don’t allow people to have a voice, they will go elsewhere to be heard. It is often better to enable people to introduce their criticisms in a forum where you can respond.
- Create a Conversation. Respond in a positive manner to the criticism and encourage others to join in a discussion about the topic. Demonstrate that you respect that your readers/patrons/customers have a right to their own opinions, and that you’re willing to hear them.
- Keep Your Cool. You don’t want to engage in a confrontation with your critic. While we can all think up snappy comebacks, putting that person down will only leave them and the rest of your readers with a bad feeling. Instead, view this as an opportunity to address concerns that others may have been keeping in check, and to learn something valuable.
- Be Yourself. Don’t pose as a reader/user to challenge negative comments. Believe it or not, most people will see right through this and you will lose the respect of your audience. People respond best to honesty and authenticity, even if it’s not perfect, so be yourself!
- Pass it Along. An immediate response to dealing with anything negative is to get it over with and move on, however, dealing with negative feedback can often lead to positive change. After dealing with the PR end, pass the feedback along to the appropriate department in your organization. Was the negative comment about your customer service? Forward the feedback to that division so they can consider making some changes.
Want more suggestions? Here are a few helpful articles on the topic:
- Dealing with Negative Comments
- When Good Social Marketing Goes Bad: Combating Negative User-Generated Content (subscription required)
- When Blogging Goes Bad – How to Handle Negative Comments
- Troll Management
- Negative Blog Comments – Keep Your Focus!
- Blog Comments: How to Handle Negative Comments
- A Comment About Comments