5 Ways To Combat Negative Blog Comments

12/08/2005

The  #1 concern I'm hearing from organizations interested in exploring blogs to support marketing strategies is, "But what about the negative comments? How do we control people posting bad things about our brand or our company or our toilet paper?" Well...perhaps not TP but one never knows.

People. People. People. Marketing has changed. The world has changed. It changed while you were not looking. It changed when the internet and email made it easy for anyone to talk to the anyone in the world. Piazza_2Fifty years ago, my grandma's front piazza (porch) was where her world congregated to kibbutz. Now even 80-year old divas are on-line and writing blogs.

Bottom-line with over 50 million people chatting it up on blogs if you turn comments off you loose the home court advantage. People will talk about your company, your products, your staff and yeah, even your TP somewhere. Why would you not want that discussion to take place where you can easily monitor it and respond?

To turn comments on. To turn comments off. This has be come an old debate in the blogosphere. One of the benefits of a marketing blog is the opportunity to dialogue with customers, prospects and stakeholders.  Sorry y'all, no comments does not make a conversation. It's called a monologue. (see Dad my theatre major came in handy after all!). One person takes center stage with no opportunity for direct feedback. For my money, a blog without comments and trackbacks is an on-line newsletter. And that's not a negative comment.

Great example of highly focused brand kibitz on a non "corporate blog" is McChronicles. This blog about McDonalds welcomed it's 18,000 visitor last night. A Google search for McChronicles pulls 15,900 results. That's a lot of Big Macs! U.S. News and World Report highlighted McCs in an article about customers creating buzz; McChronicles is a live case study of citizen journalism and customer evangelism. McDonald owners are asking McChronicles to review their restaurants and even Corporate McD people have been known to drop by to listen (tracked by referral stats). However, the folks at McD's must be busy chowing down on their burgers since a sanctioned McD blog has not yet surfaced.

If you're still not convenienced that comments on are a good thing, here are ...

5 Ways To Combat Negative Blog Comments
5. Turn off comments
4. Monitor comments
3. Develop a comment policy
Include on your navigation bar and above the comment section
2. Delete comments that do not meet your guidelines

The Number One Way To Combat Negative Blog Comments ...
1. Show 'em what you are made of!
Use negative comments (those that express legit concerns) as a way to demonstrate how you handle customer concerns.

Keep in mind, today's piazzas are not just porches built around our homes but extend to the far corners of the world. That means our customers' sphere of influence is not limited to their around the corner neighborhood but anywhere there is an internet connection.

Since we're friends, I'll let you in a little secret. Understanding that companies no longer control the message (influence yes. control no.) and that customers have more power than ever before in "helping sell your product", you gain a huge advantage over your competition - those that are trying to swim upstream against the current. It's an exciting, new world. Don't be afraid to become apart of it. 

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» Grab bag: Good Marketing Stuff from Marketing Roadmaps
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Comments

Negative comments can come from different angles.
Sometimes you get people who have no manners and post unfounded negative comments just to sound off and make noise. These types of comments I would delete.

Negative comments can also come from bonafide things that your company has messed up. I would take these comments to heart and make a big deal of them. Fix what people are complaining about and then make a big deal of it on the blog.

Posted by: Monty Loree on Dec 8, 2005 9:33:41 PM

Monty -

Great advice that many companies fail to capitalize on ..
"Fix what people are complaining about and then make a big deal of it on the blog."

Tell em what you've done for them - a small but powerful tactic. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by: Toby on Dec 8, 2005 9:49:24 PM

hey that is my aunt & uncle!!!!
c ya
k

Posted by: kaye kaplan on Dec 9, 2005 12:04:02 PM

Careful what you post..never know who will read your blog ... thanks for stopping "cuz k!"

Posted by: Toby on Dec 9, 2005 2:15:24 PM

Exellent post! The idea of fighting on your own courtyard is right on. Why risk someone that is for whatever (usually bad) reason unsatisfied with what you provide, badmouth you somewhere you don't know.

A great example was when I was doing heavy promotion of my blog on forums. I've given great advice there and put a link back to my site. Well, almost all the negative comments (usually only a few) were on my blog, not on the forum. If I'd set my comments to off, I'd get all those responses on the forum and that could get many people from ever visiting my blog -- just because some frustrated chump thaught that all successful people are cheats and liars.

This is a great technique.

Thank you and have a great day.

Posted by: Blaz (Marketing blog owner) on Dec 10, 2005 4:24:06 AM

I try to handle negative comments proactively as you say. Accepting good feedback and just ignoring the the tone (taking the higher ground) ... has worked for me very well. In fact just this week, taking a "negative" comment head on, accepting that "yeah that's a good point" ... and politely probing about more of the comment won the respect of the author.

Of course not everyone will be as polite and such. But being proactive and taking the high road, I've found, works well.

Also a note on finding negative posts and comments. You absolutely must use PubSub, Feedster, Technorati, and IceRocket to track your brand, your name, and your site.

Posted by: Tris Hussey on Dec 11, 2005 2:29:14 PM

Always keeping it professional is the best way to handle the negative comments, after all, everybody is not going to agree with you.

Posted by: Mel Logan on Dec 26, 2005 1:16:54 AM

Great post, Toby. You don't have to allow comments if your company or organization is uncomfortable with the idea. But if you don't allow comments, as you say Toby, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Even if a comment is negative, but thoughtful, there's a chance to debate your side of the discussion, if your right you will win through if not. Better to learn about a needed change in strategy now than later.

Posted by: john cass on Dec 27, 2005 4:41:47 PM

Hey,

Its nice to comment in this way

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