Gini Dietrich

Handling Negative Comments Online

By: Gini Dietrich | December 9, 2010 | 

The Facebook question of the week comes from my cutie patootie friend Samantha Collier (BTW, I said she was just @samtara in the video, but the correct link is here). She asks, “How should one respond to negative feedback, differing opinions, etc., through social media?”

My answer is in the video (which, if you’re viewing through your RSS feed and can’t see, you can click here to watch it). What is your advice?

AND! If you have a question for me, go to our Facebook wall and leave it there. Jamie Sandford and Gabriella Sannino are next, but leave one and I’ll answer it right after the first of the year.

P.S. Don’t forget our webinar next week. If you want help figuring out how to implement some of the 2011 trends into your marketing budget, you’ll want to attend. Or I’ll tap dance for an hour. Like, literally, stand on my desk with tap shoes on and do a little dance. Either way, I doubt you’ll want to miss it.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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20 responses to “Handling Negative Comments Online”

  1. SamanthaCollier says:

    Thanks for answering my question Gini. I think it’s important for people to know they don’t have to respond to every differing opinion, criticism, etc unless it’s rude, includes cursing or extremely damaging.
    On a different note. I’m glad your speaking engagements are done for the year and you get to enjoy the holiday season. You deserve a break you busy lady you!
    And one last note, my twitter is @samtaracollier in case anyone is crazy enough to follow me 🙂

  2. SamanthaCollier says:

    Thanks for answering my question Gini. I think it’s important for people to know they don’t have to respond to every differing opinion, criticism, etc unless it’s rude, includes cursing or extremely damaging. On a different note. I’m glad your speaking engagements are done for the year and you get to enjoy the holiday season. You deserve a break you busy lady you!

  3. HowieSPM says:

    HA! You just punked me! That is awesome but you now owe Ashton Kutchner $0.07 in royalties.

    This is a great subject Gini! Brands actually need to embrace dissention via Social Media. Aside from an ‘attack’ that requires a law suit, this is a strategic tool. Consumers will especially gripe via Social. And you need to analyze the gripe. Bad service experience? Bad product experience? Use it as free feedback to improve your business. And every shout out is that person saying ‘Here is your chance to reach out..I want to be loved!’ Or something like that. Before they never called you up and complained, few wrote letters, they just bitched behind your back! Now they bitch in public and dare you to respond. Now you can identify improvements so much faster. Embrace dissention.

    The problem is it is easier to tell a Client embrace the bad to make it good, when it’s not our ego on the line everytime something negative is said.

  4. hackmanj says:

    This was a nice primer for me, I like how you bundled things into two groups:

    1. Serious crisis
    2. Normal trolls/etc

    Nice resource Gini, the Onyxcafe example related to the San Bruno fire pipeline is the best example I recall recently of a “serious crisis” did you evaluate that case at all?

  5. Robin_CE says:

    Great info Gini. I had gotten a differing opinion from someone on Twitter. I did respond and realized that person wanted to “go at it”. I learned really quick that there are times you don’t have to respond.
    No crisis had occured!

  6. 3HatsComm says:

    Gini, This is good advice and I agree about ignoring haters and trolls, that’s an unfortunately side effect of blogging, the Interwebz, etc. but genuine dissent is something else. Opinions will vary and people will disagree, so like you said you have to decide whether or not you want or will benefit from engaging in a professional, respectful debate. There will come a time when you also have to cut your loses, agree to disagree and walk away.

    Ignore it? No you can’t monitor everything, reply to all criticisms (and yes crises are another animal). But as Howie mentioned, you can and should USE that feedback to improve products, step up service. Depending on whom you’re ignoring, you could be perceived as unresponsive, uncaring or just not on the ball. IDK I just think you sometimes have to take a little bad with the good, and if nothing else, show that you are listening, understand other opinions and yet, stick to your beliefs. So ignore (it all) at your own risk. FWIW.

  7. HowieSPM says:

    I forgot. You are still sick! Tell Jack Bauer no more late parties. And you are not drinking your Mimosa’s as the Doctor ordered for the vitamin C! Get better already. I can see procrastination is an issue. Have you tried going to some motivational speakers?

  8. Lawsagna says:

    Thanks, these are great points! Here area few more things that came to mind:
    1. Sometimes, even if we don’t want to engage in a debate, we can still thank people for their feedback if it’s useful.
    2. Never say online what you wouldn’t say to a person face-to-face.
    3. If somebody’s negative comment has a snowball effect and your community members start arguing among themselves, it’s sometimes helpful to move the discussion to a separate place, like a discussion topic on a FB fan page, not to attract more attention from newcomers.

  9. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Nothing is working. Nothing. Not the mimosas. Not the motivational speakers. Nothing.

  10. ginidietrich says:

    @3HatsComm Totally agree and when I said “ignore” I meant in the aspect of what @Robin_CE was saying – when they just want to argue with you to argue with you. There is one person on Twitter that I avoid like the plague because he’s condescending and rude every time I speak to him. So I ignore him. Even when he tweets me.

  11. ginidietrich says:

    @SamanthaCollier You are very welcome! I am on my way home an have a break from business travel, but have a HUGE deadline next Friday so no real break yet.

  12. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM TOTALLY agree (and I did punk you). Like I said to @3HatsComm I’m talking about ignoring those people who just want to debate you in unprofessioanls discourse just to be jerks. But you absolutely should listen to what people have to say if they’re griping about your produt or service. Unless it’s you griping about not getting an invitation to the party yacht. I just ignore you.

  13. ginidietrich says:

    @hackmanj I haven’t evaluated it, but all those big words make my congested head hurt!

  14. ginidietrich says:

    @Lawsagna Great, great additions! Thank you!

  15. hackmanj says:

    @ginidietrich is that an “Enough, enough!”?

  16. […] Rick on December 10th, 2010 The good folks at Spin Sucks have a new video posted on handling “negative […]

  17. 3HatsComm says:

    @ginidietrich @Robin_CE I know about the haters, trolls and I usually do ignore, but sometimes will mix it up a bit and debate, if it’s something very important I care to discuss.. like arguing the crapiness of the LOST finale — 6 years for THAT?! 😉 For people like this, the guy on Twitter, if you’re ignoring them anyway, and the harassment bothers you, I wonder if it’s time to block? Not worth the headache of replying, etc. Just thinking..

  18. barryrsilver says:

    Once in espace, it’s vital to respond to criticism, negative comment etc. Differences of opinion are easy, own and admit to the difference. If negative comments are mean spirited crap, call those comments out. If the criticism sticks, agree, apologize, share your course at doing better and thank the person that pointed it out. If you disagree with the criticism state your case factually and then artfully drop that criticism in the difference of opinion pile. Do not ignore negatives or criticism. Left alone those minor nuisances can grow into full blown catastrophe.

  19. maureenpetron says:

    I’ve been a lurker for a while, and remember this answer from a few weeks ago. You mention ignoring the haters and trolls, but… forever? If a hater posts up negative comments (several of them) to each and every one of your Facebook posts, do you continue to ignore them? Not only are they not professional, they have begun attacking people who post something positive. This has led to fewer other people leaving comments because they get attacked. Delete? Is there a “reporting” mechanism to Facebook, and if so, is it worth it? And then what about further complications of this being a big company’s brand?

  20. ginidietrich says:

    @maureenpetron Hey lurker! 🙂 This is how we handle stuff like that with clients: We send a note (or call) the person who keeps leaving negative comments and ask if there is something I can do to help them. Nine times out of 10 the person just wants to be heard and stops. For that 10th person, we block them publicly by saying something like, “We have had numerous offline conversations with XXX and, because he/she refuses to participate professionally, we are blocking him/her.” But that is the very last resort…after you’ve tried to talk to them offline.

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