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Technology Etiquette: How to Properly Address a Negative Online Comment

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If you manage a blog, business, Twitter profile or Facebook page, the chances you'll receive a negative comment, tweet, rating or review are high. Before you panic and respond with something you may later regret, refer to my tips below.
  1. Monitor your online presence. It goes without saying that you should be closely managing your social media pages, posting timely and useful content and responding to the questions and comments you receive. Most people who take the time to respond to your posts or leave a question or comment have something useful or positive to ask or offer. There is always an exception, which is why I'm sharing the tips that follow.
  2. Don't bury your head in the sand. If someone has posted a negative comment, by all means respond. But, do so in a positive and thoughtful tone. Depending on the size of your business, consider creating a company protocol for handling negative online comments. Is there a staff member in particular who should write or vet the company response? If so, is he or she available to respond in a timely manner? Time is of the essence, especially on Twitter. If the unruly or inappropriate comment was left on your blog, don't hesitate to delete it.
  3. After responding, have faith in your fans. I have noticed that when a nasty comment is left on a Facebook page, the fans of the business will often quickly share their positive comments and experiences in your defense. Also, if it was a genuine complaint that was handled quickly and professionally, a negative comment can quickly turn into a glowing review for your business. The same goes for a negative online review. Those who are fans of your business will most likely drown out the occasional low rating.
  4. Take the conversation out of the public eye. If you happen to receive a negative tweet, ask him or her to DM you privately with more details. Once on DM, take the conversation over to phone or email. If the remark comes by way of a blog comment, don't hesitate to email him or her to address the concern (after deleting the comment if you feel it doesn't belong on your blog).
  5. It's not necessary to respond to every negative comment. There will always be those who are pleasant, and those who are unhappy with the information provided. You will notice that many of the negative comments have much more to do with the person leaving the comment than the reason for the comment itself. Respond to a customer or client, but use your best judgment by not spending your entire day going back and forth with someone who is simply trying to waste your time. There will always be the random "hater" who has nothing else to do than troll the web, offering useless, nasty remarks. Their rants speak for themselves - don't lower yourself to their level.
  6. When necessary, block and report. On the very rare occasion you encounter a fan or follower who is offensive and aggressive, you may want to consider blocking and reporting the behavior. Of course, don't get over-zealous in your blocking efforts or attempt to block or flag any fan or follower who posts a question or concern on your page. Also, don't block someone solely on the fact that they disagree with you, or your position on a particular subject. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and when given in a professional manner, is entitled to it.
The benefits of maintaining a strong online presence are tremendous and (in my opinion) outweigh the occasional headache of handling negative comments.

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