How To Respond To Negative Blog Comments
Last week, I made the case that getting negative comments on your blog is a sign that you're on the right track.
This week, I'm going to tackle how to respond to them. Because, if you do it wrong, if you let them get under your skin, you'll encourage more and more of the same. You'll also risk turning off your readers and bringing undo stress upon yourself.
So what follows are five guidelines to best handle negative comments.
1. Remember that they're a good sign.
Just knowing negative comments are a positive for your blog that result in better engagement, higher traffic, and more sales make reading them easier to take.
They should be celebrated rather than feared. Yea, they hate it!
2. If they're mean, delete them.
Your blog is your home, and when you write a new post, you're inviting people into your living room. If they're impolite, you have every right to show them the door. Otherwise, the bad behavior will continue or get worse.
So if you're called names or your work is misrepresented or twisted to in order to hurt you or make you look foolish, then delete the comment without a second thought.
3. Have a policy.
My policy reads:
We love your comments, especially those that help the SCM community. They are much appreciated. We also welcome genuine disagreements. However, meanspirited comments, or those that purposefully mischaracterize our beliefs and motives here at SCM, will not be approved.
This way, if anyone complains about their deleted comments, you can quickly and easily link to your policy.
4. Don't respond.
If someone disagrees with what you've written in your post, you don't have to respond. If fact, it's best if you don't. Just let your original post do the talking for you.
Otherwise, you put yourself in the position of having to defend yourself for every post you write. You also encourage a back-and-forth argument that not only don't you have time for, but it will also be an exercise in frustration.
5. Let your readers defend you.
Another positive of negative comments is that it gets people talking. It encourages others to agree and disagree. The upshot is that you get more comments - which is good for your SEO. (So Scott tells me.)
I've also found over the years that if I don't respond, my readers will come to my defense, often making the same points and arguments I would have made.
Whispering Words of Wisdom
Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of the Beatles. But 'Let it Be' is the appropriate theme of this article.
Go ahead and read each comment to make sure it adheres to your policy. Delete it if it doesn't. (I keep a file of all the ugly comments I've gotten over the years for my perverse pleasure, but that's just me.)
Then move on. Don't stress over bad comments or go back and change your post. Own your stuff. Stand up for what you believe in. Not everyone is going to agree with what you say, but that's okay.
If you back your words with thoughtful reasoning, people will respect you.
And that's about all we can ask for.
PS - To check out a real-world example, I wrote this article yesterday over at SCM. Check out the comments. You'll see what I mean.
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