Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dealing with Negative Comments and Spam

For many people who have just started social media for their companies, or their own personal blogs, getting negative comments may be a nightmare. And for those who are interested in joining the social media community, this might be their greatest fear that is stopping them from joining.

In my opinion, you do not need to be afraid of negative opinions or comments. Even if you do not have a blog, someone can write bad things about you or your company, and there is nothing you can do about it.

I would say there are a few kinds of negative opinions and comments.

1) SPAM and other unrelated comments.

There are people who would just put up ads or links to their webpages, trying to sell stuff in the comments part of your blogs, Facebook pages or YouTube Video. For these people, I would recommend you simply delete these comments.

2) Negative comments that do not further the conversation from anonymous people.

For many critics, putting comments that belittle people seem to be some form of pleasure for them. If someone tells you, "YOUR BLOG SUCKS", don’t take the bait! Most of the time, these are just bitter people looking for a fight. Just like bullies in a school, all they want is a reaction from you.

I know sometimes ego may get in your way and you want to defend your blog or post, however, fighting with these people may simply be a waste of time. For many of these time wasters, I say "Delete" their posts or simply ignore them.

3) Profanities, vulgarities, defematory and personal attacks

There is no point in arguing with someone who is not civilized. Emotions may get high, and things will only be more personal. For these, I would also suggest you delete them. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS

4) Genuine feedback of bad service received.

If there are feedback and comments about you or your products and services, you should respond, even if it puts your company in a bad light. Usually, when someone is unhappy enough to put it on a blog or find your blog and comment on it, it must be something significant.

These posts generally will try to list the problem encountered and may give supporting evidences as links. They are trying to address a problem in hopes of a pleasant resolution.

Here are a few steps I would take if I find such comments on my blog.

- Find out exactly what happened? (Ask for examples, time, place and the whole story) This would automatically remove those who try to write on behalf of their friends or other hear say stories which may be untrue.

- Reply as a comment on the blog that investigations will take place and a resolution will be done in xx days. (And do necessary research to check out what happened)

- Find out what you can do in your power to resolve the situation. (If a customer had a bad experience, perhaps a "free service" to invite them to come again, and an apology would change their opinion?)

- Make sure similar problems do not happen again, communicate with the rest of company, and thank the customer for pointing it out. (Admit the mistake, resolve and move on)

- Be transparent. Reply on the same medium the complain is made. This may be a good example of how such bad experience is resolved for other customers. If customer is in the wrong and nothing can be done about it, make sure you have an FAQ so that such mistakes do not occur again.

There is nothing really wrong with bad comments and feedback, you just have to attend to it properly.

-- Robin Low

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