How To Deal With Negative Comments On Your Blog or Profile

Ever get that comment on your blog or social networking profile that made your stomach feel a little funny?  Maybe it was critical of something you said.  Maybe it bashed another commenter on your wall.  Maybe it was completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.  What do you do about that?

We talk a lot in social media circles about the need for authenticity and transparency.  Deleting what other people have said is considered a last resort, and several major brands have been slammed quite publicly for deleting critical comments on their online presences.  It’s a tough quandary.  After all, it’s important for us to represent our brand in a positive way.  But at the same time, if the online conversation isn’t real, and we don’t take the opportunity to fix things that are broken instead of trying to hide them, people will call us out on them.

So how does that impact you?  How do you decide which comments to let stand, and which to remove on your own presences?  Here are few thoughts:

  1. If the comment is critical of the person or brand being discussed, yet respectful, let it stand, and simply provide a thoughtful response.  That response could correct a misconception, apologize for a problem, or assure the person that you’re looking into it.
  2. If the post criticizes another commenter, I delete it, typically.  Disagreement on issues is fine.  But when it comes to pointing fingers at others, or bullying, I don’t think that’s appropriate.  I want my presences to be a safe place for everyone to discuss issues without fear of personal attacks.
  3. If the comment has curse words, that’s an automatic deletion.  Same goes for mean-spirited posts that are simply designed to cause trouble.
  4. If the post is self-promoting, and has nothing to do with the topic at hand, feel free to delete it.  It brings no value to the discussion.  (Sometimes, if something is borderline, and it’s a place I can edit the comment, I will simply remove or disable a link that is included.)

It’s important to remember that you never want to try to hide things in social media.  It will almost always come back to bite you.  Better to allow the conversation to happen in a place where you can provide your perspective.  But at the same time, it IS your presence, and you have the right to set the ground rules about what is appropriate…thus my rules about bullying, cursing, etc.

Some organizations have even gone so far as to create a posted comments policy.  Your company’s Facebook Page might have one.  It states quite simply what is allowed, and what isn’t.  This creates an environment that is comfortable for all participants.

So what are your thoughts on this issue?  How do you handle uncomfortable comments and posts?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

3 Responses to How To Deal With Negative Comments On Your Blog or Profile
  1. Aimee
    February 2, 2011 | 12:51 pm

    It was great to read this… it validated for me the decision I made in a situation exactly like this a couple of weeks ago. I sell a product that is new to most people and many are skeptical. It works for 95% of people and if it doesn’t work for someone, there is usually a reason why that can be fixed. But because of the natural skepticism and the fact that I’m fairly new to the business, and trying to get it off to a good start, I am concerned about things that are stated publicly. So the other week I was horrified when someone posted on my page that she had tried my product 4 times and they didn’t work for her… ugh… that’s the worst! Even though the people who know me KNOW my integrity, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the people who might see that and use it to confirm their doubts… and think I’m selling some kind of snake oil. My immediate impulse was to just delete the comment and start a private conversation with the customer, but I hesitated. What if even ONE person had seen her comment in the few moments before I deleted and then noticed that I took it down? That would make it look as though I was afraid my company couldn’t stand up under scrutiny and complaints… like I was trying to hide something or put one over on people. So I left it and engaged with her right there, trying to work through why the product didn’t work for her. I figured, all things considered, it was better to let people see that I’m open and honest to work with people and their concerns. It all worked out and eventually some other people chimed in and commented that it worked great for them… for which I was very grateful. In fact, I had even briefly considered soliciting some positive comments, but that seemed dishonest as well, so I just waited. Anyway, I’m glad to know I am not the only one who has dealt with this type of thing and I really enjoyed your blog.

    • Jennifer Fong
      February 2, 2011 | 12:58 pm

      Aimee,
      Sounds like you handled this just right! Rather than trying to hide something, it’s almost always better to address things out in the open, at least initially, so you gain a reputation for transparency and authenticity. Congratulations on your business, too. You’re with a great company!
      Jennifer

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