How You Handle Negative Comments Could Help Your Rep--or Hurt It

Blogs serve a variety of purposes. They keep family members up to date. They inform readers about the latest trends. They test and review products before they are available to the public. Bloggers share opinions, experiences, and information. In return, readers provide feedback in the form of comments.

As a blogger, you write to a community of like-minded people. Whether you write about coupons or brain surgery, your readers follow you because there's a common interest. You have information to share, and they want to read about it. However...it's bound to happen sooner or later. No matter how hard you try and avoid it, it's simply inevitable.

Rejection. Negative feedback. Disagreement. Criticism.

Thumper said it best when he said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." There's no doubt, negative feedback can be painful. But keep in mind, it's not necessarily a personal attack. How you handle negative feedback can positively or negatively affect your online reputation.

Before you respond to the negative feedback, try to determine the source. Is it a customer or follower who is familiar with you and your industry? Is it a competitor, pretending to be a customer or follower, intending to damage your reputation? Or is it a troll, simply an anonymous person whose only intent is to get under your skin?

If you determine your feedback was the result of a bored troll who randomly selected you, then just ignore it. If there is offensive or vulgar language in the comment, it's okay to delete it. But otherwise, just leave it alone and move on.

The other scenarios, however, require follow-up. Below are several responses to avoid, as well as a few suggestions how to correctly handle the negative feedback:

The Wrong Way

If you let your emotions take over and attack the follower with a rude response, you are undoubtedly harming your blog and your reputation. Keep in mind, you can't take your response back. The comment will probably be visible for several years. Don't write anything you'll regret later.

Don't yell in your response by using all caps. And no name-calling either. Don't bully, and don't get defensive.

Deleting the comment isn't a good idea because it demonstrates your inability to handle conflict or accept criticism. If you close your mind to criticism, you'll never improve as a blogger. Conflict and criticism are great learning tools, when used properly.

The Right Way

When you receive negative feedback, the first thing to do is keep calm. Don't lose your cool. Take a deep breath.

If you discover you've made a mistake, then promptly write a response and acknowledge it. Everyone appreciates honesty. If the comment came from an unhappy customer, find a way to make it right. Ask if it's okay to send a private message to discuss it further.

When a reader disagrees with you, respond professionally. Thank the reader for taking time to share a different point of view. Let the reader know you appreciate your followers, even the ones who disagree with you. If they comment again, and you see no hope of resolution, then let it go. Don't get drawn into an endless battle of words.

Conclusion

When negative feedback finds its way onto your blog, don't damage your reputation with the wrong response. Take time to think it over, and then respond professionally and respectfully. You, your blog, and your online reputation will be better because of your effort.

Amy Kirkegaard is a freelance writer and guest blogger who writes on a variety of current topics, including blogging and Reputation.com reviews.


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