If you run an online community service where others are encouraged to participate with their own thoughts, you’re sure to come across negative comments throughout your blog or forum’s life. While negative comments may be one of your greatest fears as a social media participant, they are a reality. Furthermore, the way that you deal with negative comments can either make or break your online reputation—and the reputation of your business.
Check out the following tips on dealing with negative comments in the online arena:
1. Walk Away
Whatever you do, do not respond to negative comments immediately. Chances are that you’re fairly upset or offended by the comment or comments, and replying while in an emotional state of mind isn’t the best way to deal with negativity on your blog or forum. Instead, give yourself a couple of hours (at the very least) to sit on the negative comment. Then allow yourself to respond.
2. Don’t Ignore the Comments
While it may be tempting to simply ignore the negative comments, this is not the wisest route. By ignoring and/or deleting negative comments, you may be tempting your unsatisfied readers to make a louder outcry on a more public forum. You want to take on the negative comment and see it as an opportunity to work on your customer service skills, if nothing else.
3. Climb into Your Reader’s Shoes
Believe it or not, some negative comments can actually be constructive underneath their offensive surface. Furthermore, this is the Internet. More times than most, things get misconstrued in the online world. Do your best to see your reader’s point of view on the subject at hand. If you’re able to understand their perspective, great! Use this as an opportunity to improve your blog or forum and thank your reader for his/her constructive criticism. If you’re unable to understand their perspective, just write it off.
4. Keep Your Ego in Check
It might be your first instinct to say, “It’s my blog, and I’ll say whatever I want to!” and storm off in a huff. But keep this in mind: it’s a free world. Your readers have all the right in the world to leave negative comments on your forum or blog. It’s your duty to respond to these comments as maturely as possible.
5. Own Up to Your Error
It happens to the best bloggers and writers in the world. Mistakes are made. If a reader’s negative comment is calling you out on an error, and upon double-checking you see that the reader is correct, then it’s time to own up to your mistake. Acknowledge the mistake you made and apologize for the error in either your comments section or as an addendum to the body text.
6. Be Positive
If all else fails, try to be Sunny Sally or Optimistic Owen about the situation. If the reader claims that a fact is incorrect when you know it’s correct, prove your accuracy…but do it nicely! Do your best to see past the negative comment, and do not let it ruin your day.
7. Agree to Disagree
If a reader leaves a particularly nasty comment disagreeing with your view or what you posted, the best you can do is agree to disagree and try to get the discussion onto a more productive topic. Acknowledge the reader’s opinion and thank them for commenting, then ask them something else about their experience. Chances are that they’ll grasp at the opportunity to talk about their opinions some more.
While it’s never fun receiving negative comments on your public forum, it’s something that you’ll most likely have to deal with at one time or another. By following these seven tips, you can ensure that you’re responding with the utmost grace, class, and maturity.