If you own or manage an online community or blog, you are likely to come across a negative comment at one time or another. Getting a negative comment can be very annoying and discouraging. However, how you handle such comments will have a major impact on your reputation.
Here are some guidelines for handling negative comments:
1. Have rules
From the onset, it is very important to have rules about what kind of comments are acceptable and which ones are not. These terms and conditions can be placed in your ‘About’ or ‘Submissions’ page. For example, you could mention clearly that you will not tolerate any hate speech, spam, abuse or profanity. Let your readers know the consequences of posting such comments on your blog.
2. Step back
Whenever you receive a negative comment on your forum or blog, avoid the temptation of responding right away. Since you might have been annoyed by the comment, responding in that state of mind would not be advisable. Instead, let the matter rest for a few hours. After you have cooled down, it will be easier to give a more objective reply.
3. Don’t ignore or delete
It would not be wise to ignore or delete negative comments. By doing this, you might encourage the disgruntled individuals to post further complaints on other forums. This can end up being detrimental for your reputation. Responding to negative comments allows you to clear misconceptions and make amends where necessary. This will put matters to rest and in the process enhance your credibility.
4. Get your reader’s perspective
At times, comments which are offensive might actually be good advice in disguise. Therefore, before dismissing a comment, try to see things from the perspective of the reader. If you find something useful in it, take time to thank the reader for sharing. However, if the criticism is not constructive, just overlook the comment.
5. Accept liability
Once in a while, readers will leave negative comments pointing out mistakes you have committed. If you realize that the reader is right, be mature enough to take responsibility. Even the best writers and bloggers out there make mistakes. Own up to your error and leave an apology in the comments section. This will help you win the trust and loyalty of your readers.
6. Go private
Once in a while, you will receive a strong or sensitive comment which requires significant deliberation. In such a case, it would be advisable to handle the matter in private with the commenter. Taking the discussion away from the public eye allows you to resolve issues without involving the rest of your audience in the drama.
At times, you will come across people who are always leaving irrelevant or offensive comments on your blog. In such a case, it would be advisable to block them and delete their comments. This will not only protect your brand’s reputation, but also your readers. However, you should only blacklist a person when every other option fails.
How you deal with negative comments can make or break your business. The tips above will help you deal with such comments in a rational and professional manner.