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Gini Dietrich

Managing Negative Online Comments

By: Gini Dietrich | October 13, 2011 | 
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It’s Facebook question of the week time (clap, clap, clap!).

A few housekeeping things first.

If you’re going to PRSA this weekend/next week, leave me a comment so I can say hi!

And, Inside PR (Martin Waxman, Joe Thornley, and I) are hosting a TweetUp on Monday night. If you RSVP online, the first drink is on us!

We’re also going to be doing lots of interviews for the podcast. Achieve your 15 minutes of fame AND a free drink. On us. Well, the free drink is on us for sure.

And now…the question.

Barry Silver asks:

I’ve been tracking the Triberr hashtag and find a number of people that repeatedly express their dissatisfaction there. So, in more general terms, what’s with the idea of running down various social media sites in arenas for the devotees of said site? Do people go on #prchat and bash PR or on #blogchat and bash bloggers? Any insights?

My answer to Barry’s question is in the video below (if you can’t view it in your Reader, click here and it’ll magically appear).

What do you think?

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.

92 comments
ExpatDoctorMom
ExpatDoctorMom

Gini

Hair looks great! Love the bangs and color!

By human nature, I think you will always get those that bash... I had a woman repeatedly on my site bash doctors in general how we were all out to promote tests etc. Literally wrote pages and pages on my breast cancer screening post. I countered with, gently telling her to find a doctor she trusted and that I had discussions with my patients and respected their choice. It kept the conversation at bay rather than escalating it.

KevinVandever
KevinVandever

Your hair looks great...as does the wine. I have no other input.

Justin Germino
Justin Germino

I recently had an issue with negative online comments on a video on my YouTube channel, I have writers who do video reviews and the comments were starting to be blatantly rude and disrespectful. I don't mind negative comments if the commenter can present in a respectful manner, disrespect has no place in any communication online or offline. You can dislike something and talk about what you don't like about it, but be prepared to elaborate and provide details so that either changes can be made if they are determined to be defects/feature improvements that are valid or prove that you at least used or tried the service to know you can actually provide an opinion that isn't based on actually using it.

My policy has always been to approve/accept all feedback even if negative as long as negativity is presented without blatant disrespect. If something negative is trending enough with a hashtag and being picked up then obviously a company has to get involved and start monitoring to do damage control or customer education at some point.

AnneWeiskopf
AnneWeiskopf

I am renaming this chat. Question of the week: "Do you love Gini's new haircut?" Survey says, Yes! (Also proving that this forum is great for positive online comments :)

John Fitzgerald
John Fitzgerald

I think you're right about human nature - some people just want to bash. But I think in many instances that actually helps further a discussion. Sometimes it even creates a discussion where before there was only agreement.

I always tell small businesses and non-profits that there will always be a certain amount of negativity in any new social or web endeavor, but they shouldn't censor it. Negative comments can lead to new discoveries about how to do things better and it also shows a proactive approach in dealing with negative issues. Either way, I think fair-minded people can see baseless negativity for what it is and will react accordingly - by ignoring it.

And if you don't censore negative comments, you give your supporters a great opportunity to defend your brand.

Brankica
Brankica

I had hair like that before. I love it. It looks awesome on you!!!

Love the video.And about the topic - I actually think it is the best place to express your dissatisfaction. Because where else will they notice it fast and give you a solution or reply (not just triberr, any service and hashtag and chat)

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

Hey, you copied me! :) Your hair looks great!

Ok - YES we complain all the time. We are WAY more likely to complain than we are to give praise which sucks but that's human nature. As long as your complaining serves a purpose I think it's ok but if you whinge and moan for the sake of, well, whinging and moaning, it get's old fast. Most people like a well informed, carefully put together complained. Negative comments are usually quite insightful. I do think that if you are being complained about your need to listen. If you are complaining then perhaps, where possible, you need to offer a solution at the same time.

Tinu
Tinu

Hair? Divine. Re: the question - it's tied up in the way we've been taught to behave when in conflict with another idea. Remember the debate club? Present your side of the argument to be judged. When in reality, when a person has an opinion that is entrenched at the level of belief, it takes a major life event to change it. Logic, reason, emotion, volume, these all fail.

And yet, that's what our educational system has to offer us - and not just in the States. Those few people who have somehow managed to learn or be taught HOW to think rather than WHAT to think are going to be the exception to this rule until this knowledge is passed along to the most malleable minds at the most critical time. The flip side of that is just as damaging though - we're often so rooted in groups of people we like, talking about things we like, in the way we prefer that new ideas are seen as a threat. This is also part of the sheep mentality that some of us naturally veer away from or are taught is equally bad.

Left my question on your FB page, Gini. :)

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

First of all, let's get the hair issue out of the way. LOVE it. Very cute. Super chic. Keep it.

Second, there will always be negative comments online and it's like with anything, you absolutely must consider the source, their motivations and do a cost-benefit analysis of putting a lot of energy into responding or ignoring said comments. I manage a social account for a chef with 3 restaurants....holy moly everyone is a critic! I always consider the source (we do get random, negative comments from time to time), check in with the staff and owner before responding, and then try to take it offline if it's a legitimate concern or complaint. If it's someone posting at 1:30am and they were the last one on the bar stool that night...I put it down to drunk posting and move on.

I also think, like @TheJackB said below, some people genuinely want to have a conversation and/or seek resolutions, and then again, some people just want to get attention (traffic). It's a tough call, especially in a #chat situation as things can go fairly quickly and get lost along the way. I still fall back on considering the source!

And finally, I will not be at PRSA, but would so love to be there, have a drink and talk about your hair! :)

Maranda
Maranda

Your hair looks sassy Gini. Very nice :)

As far as negative comments go -- I personally think that it's simply a matter of maturity. There's a HUGE difference between getting involved in the conversation and finding out more about something that you may or may not agree with. The line is when you stop trying to listen and just start trying to rule the conversation. This is called being a "troll" and no one likes a troll. (unless they have brightly colored hair and grant wishes when you rub their bedazzled belly buttons)

If a person doesn't understand or see the relevance of a chat, then they should find a way to work in the hash tag with a little respect. "Would a #(insertchatmember) mind taking a few minutes to talk to me about why you love the chat" is so much different than "#randomchat is STUPID and you're all STUPID and STUPID." Clearly, I'm very opinionated on the subject - my years in debate showed me the best and the worst kinds of people. I can understand and respect why someone chooses not to take part in something, why can't the same feelings being returned if I decide to take part.

I don't run up to them at the "I think I'm better than you" convention and tell them all the ways they fail, do I? No. I don't. Because I am not a troll.

TheJackB
TheJackB

Some people like to complain and some people like to stir it up. I admit to sometimes being guilty of stirring it up, like my mentioning that you can't get a decent pizza in Chicago. That is not entirely true, you can find a decent one there. Hard to find good, but decent is doable.

On a more serious note when people want to get attention via social media channels one of the most effective ways to do it is to complain and or criticize. It is not hard to create a negative analysis of a tool, blog or platform.

And most of the time that criticism will start a conversation. The question I ask is whether they really want to have a conversation or are they trolling for traffic.

Stuart Mills
Stuart Mills

Indeed, it's human nature to want to bash and run down people in order to gain a sense of superiority over them. Everyone wants to feel secure and comfortable in themselves, but some people believe that the best way to do this is to knock some people down instead.

I personally believe that you get what you give, so my advice to those that bash others is this:

Beware

:-)

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

G,

Thanks for using the q. Loving the comments. Yes it's human nature but...I don't have a but. I just don't get the point of going back to a site just to bash a site. If you don't like the food at a restaurant why would anyone go there just to let everyone know how much they don't like the food at that place. Topic is at least consistent with the local weather today. Enjoy Orlando. BTW, I would absolutely kill to have to figure out bangs. :-)

marashorr
marashorr

Hi Gini! I'll be at the TweetUp...but sadly, not the rest of the conference. One of the benefits of being Orlando-based, I suppose!

CharPennyAnn
CharPennyAnn

Love the bangs! Like Abbie, I too stopped in just to say hi.

bdorman264
bdorman264

Yes, I will be there and you will be able to recognize me as the one slipping through the hedges as an intruder and of course with the bright blue speedo I will be wearing.

Because I'm crashing the party I don't think it would be appropriate to interview me for anything. It's almost like sitting in Wrigley for an afternoon game and the boss sees you catching a foul ball on TV when you called in sick............just sayin'..............

Oh wait, what was the question? I had to make sure I talked about me first. I don't have to handle negative comments; mine is a nice blog. And what else is cool, since it's my blog I can edit the comments so I always go back and add lines like 'oh Bill, you are so great' or 'Bill, I can't believe how incredible this post is'................now that's money in the bank............

AbbieF
AbbieF

Leaving a comment so you will say hi! I won't be staying for the tweetup, can I still get that drink?

Travel safe, see you soon.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I have no idea what a negative comment is. As Mashable knows I am always very constructive in my written communication correspondences.

The bigger the media site the more negative comments will be prevalent. and the haters are going to hate. I think it really comes down to tactfulness. You can be blunt, aggressive if you have the facts on your side. But you shouldn't curse or threaten or step beyond what is adult discussion level. I am just as guilty of my passion flaring over the sense of justice like I did to poor @thesaleslion 's story about Penelope Trunk in a post. So I get it when my tact or sarcasm go a bit above and beyond the call of duty...but I never instigate! 8)

Also I think there needs to be a point where if someone is only negative why do they keep coming back? I do not go to Mashable almost ever unless someone links on the Twitter and I click on it. I don't read the blogs of the people I feel are more fluff than substance regarding marketing, advertising and social media. I would rather not waste my energy doing this.

@Shonali showed me the Mashable commenting guidelines and basically it said (please comment your glowing agreements to our articles. If you disagree please send a private email to the editor and do not leave a comment)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

I blame Howie Goldfarb...

Human nature is definitely a part of it, and you will always have people that want to moan for moaning's sake (moaners gonna moan).

But I think it can also come down to how some communities or events, etc, are run. There's a certain person on #blogchat, for example, that does nothing but share links to their own posts, whether they're relevant or not. For me, while I can see it may not be easy due to numbers and popularity of various chats, the moderator should check the users that are dropping a lot of links and see if they offer value, or if they're devaluing the chat by being too self-promotional.

A site's popularity is only as good as the owners or managers of the site makes it - make it unfriendly, and you'll get people moaning about it.

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell

Have fun in Orlando ! Thought about you on the plane-ride back from Virginia last night. I was reading "Relic" and, as a rampaging brain-eating beast was munching it's way through a panicked cocktail party crowd, the PR Director was upstairs reassuring the Museum directors that anything could be fixed with the right PR :)

Katie Gutwein
Katie Gutwein

I agree with you that, sadly, it's (some) human(s) nature to be antagonists. That being said, whether it's bashing via a hashtag, or just plain 'ole brand bashing, I think this is just another example of why it's sooo important to have a strong online presence. You can evaluate if (a) it's worth responding (or is it just a troll), (b) what they're bashing (do you need to take a look at your product or service and make some changes?), (c) populate the interweb :) with great things about what your hashtag or brand is doing.

p.s. What type of wine are you drinking? Yummmmm. (Is 9:20a too early to be thinking about wine? Mayhaps.)

Shonali
Shonali

I like the bangs! On a more pertinent note, I'm on your interview list, right? Ahem... :p

I think, that oftentimes people will use a hashtag to get more attention. They know that people focusing on that topic are looking at that hashtag regularly, so it's a way to share a question with a larger community than might otherwise see it, bring more people into the fold, as it were, and so on. That's why I often tag posts that I share (like I did this one of yours, through our Tribe) with pertinent hashtags. It helps extend the reach. In terms of bashing, I'd say the best thing to do is to respond to the tweet, even if it's negative... just like we would with any other negative comment. How far you take that response is up to you, but at least it shows that you're listening and care about what your community is saying and/or thinking.