When it comes to negative comments, sometimes they are really hard to take. Should you respond or should you just let it go?
The problem is that they eat away at you. Especially if you give them that power in your mind.
What I do is tell myself that every negative comment can be an opportunity for engagement (which I wrote about) and I use a system to take away their power (make it more objective and less personal). If I follow the system, then they don’t bother me (as much).
Remember that you are putting yourself out here to have conversations not SCREAMING MATCHES WITH ALL CAPS (though sometimes those are fun to read).
So what are some steps I take to dealing with negative comments online?
I put together this simple flowchart for dealing with posts, comments or tweets. I’m not going to repeat the flowchart here but I am going to share with you some insights and tips on following the flowchart.
If we start with the positive left side, if you receive or discover a blog post, comment or tweet that is positive then it’s a great opportunity to repost the information.
If it’s a blog post, I will share the post on my social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google+. You can even post to other blog sharing networks like Reddit.
Another tip is to leave a comment on the blog post, thanking them for their time and effort to share positive information.
If the post, comment or tweet is positive but not factual, we need to take the time to correct it. It’s great that it’s positive but misinformation can cause more damage than good.
Now on the negative side of things, you need to be careful.
Take your time when seeing a negative post, comment or tweet. Remember you don’t know where they are coming from or where they got their information. Don’t take it personal unless it’s a personal attack – that’s a whole different ball of wax.
What you want to do is go through the flowchart and carefully examine the information.
The first one is easy – if it’s offensive, you can get rid of it with no questions ask. My friend Janice says she usually deletes the comment and warns the person about their violation of her blog commentary rules. If they violate the policy again, then they are blocked.
TIP – Put up a blog comment policy on your website. It makes it easier to delete something when you have a policy out there. You can check out Janice’s What Flies Here policy page.
Knowing if someone is a troll or not is tricky. If you don’t know what a troll is, you can check out my negative comments post. For a new blogger, it’s much worse.
You’ll probably have conversations that you think are going well and then suddenly it’s all bad. No worries. You’ll get to know the troll language, how they incite people, etc… You can block these people as well. A troll isn’t there to listen to your story – they are on an agenda. DairyCarrie deals with trolls efficiently. Just block and delete and move on.
The next block “Does the comment contain misinformation or errors?” is really tough. It seems nowadays you can prove anything on the internet is true because there will be a blog post to back them up. What we can provide here is tested and true science but you can only provide this after you’ve established a relationship with someone – and that takes time. Simply throwing your facts at their facts won’t help anyone.
In fact, there’s a study from the University of Michigan on why misinformation doesn’t get corrected but reinforced.
Pointing out misinformation on the internet (unless it is overwhelming in your favor) normally just gets someone to dig in deeper – this is about having a conversation with someone. It’s better to not think of how you are going to win with facts.
Learn where they got their facts from and why they believe it. You can share where your beliefs come from then and maybe you’ll find a common ground in the conversation. People need to know that you care about their opinions before they’ll care about yours.
You don’t need to be an expert in their facts – just an expert on yours. And if you think you are going to educate someone, remember that’s not a conversation technique and it will probably cause them to resent you more than understand you.
Brenda Hastings, the Dairy Mom, does a fabulous job with her blog and has responded to several negative articles on farming. Her best advice is to
“I consider all comments on my blog an opportunity. When responding, I do my best to stay positive, be honest and stick to the message I want to deliver. I use my experiences on my farm because I’m an expert about what happens on my farm. I try to use a balance of facts and feelings.
I’m a busy mom, wife, and daughter who works and volunteers, so I probably have much in common with those reading my blog. I want to do what’s best for my family, farm and community, just like you! People can dispute facts, but can’t dispute feelings.
It’s easy to get upset and fire off a response. I try to draft a response then put it aside for a while before finalizing and posting it. I keep in mind that several people will be reading my response to comments, not just the person who asked the question. My response will be there a long time, so I better give it thought so it reflects who I am.”
Once you build trust with the person, then you can start to share official information from credible resources.
Remember you aren’t racing to win here and it’s not going to happen overnight if ever. The big thing here is that you are having a conversation and you are open to listening to their concerns instead of just pushing your agenda. Even if you think you are not convincing that person, you might be influencing others that are seeing the exchange. Remain positive and patient with an open mind.
The next block deals with a bad experience much like customer service. If that’s the case, then I would repair the damage as best I could because this one person could be telling a lot of people how unfair you were. The best thing here is to be a good listener and then follow up with solutions afterward.
Finally, the catch-all for all other conversations.
- Always be positive.
- Take your time.
- Be transparent about your connection to the dairy industry.
- Be honest – if you don’t have an answer, let them know.
- Cite official sources if you are supporting a factual statement.
- Take your time to craft a smart, empathic response.
- Your tone reflects yourself and the entire dairy industry.
- Thank them for speaking with you.
Now what are some tricks to getting rid of comments and tweets you find offensive and unfair.
While I would never delete a negative comment unless it violates the rules, you can use social networking for some relief.
If you are getting negative comments on a particular Facebook post you can do a few things to give it less of a chance to be seen.
- Add more content quickly. This will help move the post along.
- Add your comments and get your friends to comment below the post to drive the negative posts into the thread.
- Wait until it has ran its course (a week or so), then go delete it from your timeline.
If you are getting negative comments on your blog post:
- Simply don’t approve the post (you should be moderating your posts so they can not go directly up on the web).
- Approve the post and then respond in a positive manner.
- If you need support, you can connect with other friendly bloggers to help defend your position. (Remember that comments do help in Google for search engine optimization).
I think everyone in the industry understands that it can be tough sharing your story when you get negative feedback but the more positive information you put on the internet, the more chances it has to be found by customers who are in search of the facts from a trusted source.
You will be that trusted source over time and you’ll be a positive influence and supporter of your way of life.
Do you have any tips for dealing with negative comments?
Are negative comments really negative? Sure they are but you can change them.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Mollerus (creative commons)
Yep, they are negative. It says so right here “negative comments”. But you can approach them as if they were a positive and I think you should because:
Negative comments are an opportunity to connect with people.
In a world where engagement is so very important, any opportunity to connect and engage is definitely worth the time.
It’s like when my wife says, “I wouldn’t tell you this if I didn’t care about you.”
So sometimes the purpose of a negative comment is to communicate about something an outsider perceives as negative to your business or image. You probably don’t want to hear about the negative but by learning about it you can make things better for the future.
Negative comments are an opportunity to share your passion and understand theirs.
Listen, if people didn’t care, they wouldn’t leave comments. You could take their negative comments as “I wouldn’t take the time to say this to you if I didn’t care what you are talking about.”
This means they are passionate about what you are talking about. I believe that people are as passionate about food as they are about religion, music and sports. You need to be sensitive to this information – passion can start a conversation with someone – even if it starts in a negative way.
Ray Prock, dairy farmer from CA, says this about negative commentary that he’s ran into:
Negative comments are an opportunity to share your insights into how your farm works, how their food is made, how your cows are treated, how much you care about your business, etc…
A negative comment can come off from someone’s lack of understanding – and you can share insights into how your farm operates.
I prefer to share insights over informing your readers that you are going to educate them on food production. By the simple fact they are reading and communicating with you, you can assume they are educated and informing them that you are going to ‘teach’ them usually gets them defensive.
Their thoughts and opinions may differ from you based on where they have received their information so approach those differences by sharing, not attacking their knowledge or education level. People need to know that you care about their opinions and that you empathize with them before they’ll care about your opinion.
Negative comments can give you insight on how you are coming across to others.
I think Mike Haley sums up this point best in his blog post on AgChat:
I’ve seen Mike in action on blog posts and in comment sections, talking with people in a very respectful manner about their point of view. So I thought it would be great to interview him for this post and ask him directly about how he deals with negativity.
He says, “The biggest goal to any type of online social conversation is not converting people to your point of view rather it’s about opening up the dialogue – it’s a two way street.
Don’t spend so much time trying to get people on your side, instead spend quality time on the conversation. Everybody can be right – everyone’s opinion matters. When you treat negative comments in this fashion, then it’s much easier to get common ground.”
Janice Person, who has a great deal of experience with negativity, is in agreement with Mike. Her best advice comes down to:
Sometimes negative comments are NOT an opportunity.
Sometimes when you answer back and try to listen the other person will not engage, they are looking to just to use your platform to get their point across.
We call these people trolls.
All they look to do is to use your platform to attack you, to hijack other conversations, to incite anger in you or others and, generally, just be a nuisance.
When it comes to this type of behavior, you don’t have to put up with it or engage in it – actually, that’s the worst thing to do because that’s what the troll wants. To actively see you get upset.
How do you know if someone is a troll?
Check their information with a simple Google/social media search. If you can’t find them, then consider the conversation is over. Remember you can always walk away – it’s tough sometimes but it might be better in the end.
As you get more experience on the internet, you’ll start to know who are trolls and who is genuinely interested in having a conversation with you.
How to deal with troll comments, posts and tweets?
There’s a old saying out there that “never wrestle with a pig, you are going to get dirty and the pig likes it.”
In other words, don’t stoop to their level of fighting because your reputation will be damaged more and that was their intention in the first place.
Carrie Mess has a great point on how to deal with trolls.
So what do you think, do you think negative comments are opportunities to engage or should we avoid them at all costs?
In my next post, I’ll go through the steps that I use when dealing with comments – it’s a simple social media flowchart but it can help guide you on whether you should answer back or delete that comment.