You’ve written a great piece on your travel blog. You recently returned from Vietnam, let’s say, and you want all of your readers to know how beautiful it is, how wonderful the people and food are. You have addressed the huge contrast between urban and rural life with personal examples of places you visited and locals you met. Fundamentally, you are encouraging others to consider a trip to Vietnam, and you have provided photographs to entice them. The next day, you are reading through the conversations, and whoa! There it is. Someone has told you that you don’t know what you are talking about, that Vietnam is a horrible place with a corrupt government, suppressed people, terrible food and stray, diseased dogs running the streets. They infer that you are a liar and someone must be paying you to write these travel posts. Someone is obviously angry and upset. How do you proceed to respond to that comment?
Take it Public then Private if You Can
You may want to initially respond to the comment within the conversation thread – it will be public, of course, so you will want to watch what you say. You can briefly point out that you two have obviously had very different experiences in Vietnam, and perhaps she had traveled there some years ago when things were not as great as they are now. If you don’t have contact information for the commenter (usually, you won’t), ask for an email address or some method of contact or provide an email address where she can reach you, so that you can talk with this commenter about his/her experience – perhaps she visited places you did not and you really want to know more. Now the commenter has a choice. If she is just “blowing smoke” you won’t have that private conversation, but all of the other participants will now know that you offered – a good thing.
Stay Calm and Professional
So, when someone criticizes what we say or how we say it, and does so in a pretty abusive way, our first instinct is to lash out. How dare they? Take a breath. Remember you are in a public space. Also remember this: the bully wants a reaction, and you can choose to give him/her that or not. Choose not to. Instead, reply with something really kind, like, “Thank you for your opinion. I appreciate hearing all points of view.” You are the big person now, and the bully looks a bit like a fool.
This really refers to the previous point. Sometimes we really want to get into a feud. When we have been attacked. We are just itching for a fight, and online is a pretty “safe” place to do it – nothing is face-to-face, and it’s easy to be sarcastic and nasty. Here’s the thing: the individual who made the nasty comment is itching for a fight. Responding in kind will prolong it, and you will begin to look pretty childish to your loyal followers. Sometimes, when a nasty comment comes forth, you will not have to do anything at all. It is common for loyal followers to put that person in his/her place for you, and you can stay above the fray. If it gets too wild, you can be the big person who plays peacemaker or who simply says you are going to cut off the conversation thread because that is not the purpose of your blog. The adult in the room wins.
Acknowledge Honest Negative Comments
We do make mistakes. We might include some is-information or something that has been debunked; we may make some grammar errors (this is really not cool). When this is brought to your attention, even in a very negative and critical way, your job is to acknowledge your mistake and say “Thank you for pointing that out.” It will be very difficult for the commenter to come back with something mean or rude after that.
And if you see that a negative comment relating to how you have presented your information or opinion, think about getting somewho have been at this longer than you. There is a lot of great free advice out there. Find a blogger whose style you love and become a follower.
Think About Your Brand Always
And it may not be only your brand. A lot of bloggers review products or services on their blogs or house paid advertising. If you do either of these things, remember that you are representing your personal brand and others’ too. Think of your followers as customers. Every retailer will tell you that there are always displeased and even quite angry customers. Their job is to diffuse the situation and attempt to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. Why? Because an angry customer who remains angry will spread their dislike of you elsewhere. It can “sit” out there on social media, and you may never know it. If you do represent other brands, it would be a good idea to get a social monitoring tool. It will tell you when your name or blog is mentioned anywhere and you can check out what is being said. If there is negative stuff, you can read it and respond appropriately – be respectful. This makes you look professional and tells followers that the opinions of others are important to you.
Your Blog for a Reason
Either you are in business and use your blog as a marketing tool, or you blog because you are passionate about a general topic field, and you want to share that passion. If you get one negative, even nasty, comment for every 10 complimentary ones, that’s 90% – in school that was an “A.” So, pat yourself on the back for being appropriate, professional and “killing the bullies with kindness.”