One issue of concern which always comes up when considering a company blog and comments, regards the inevitable negative blog comments. It’s a valid concern because at some point you will get critical or negative comments and unless you plan on never taking any position on anything, you will almost certainly have to deal with someone who doesn’t share your view. As well, at some point, the odds are you will screw up.

I offered some tips on handling negative tweets recently, in this one let’s tackle negative blog comments. My general advice for negative comments (regardless of the channel) is that these comments are an opportunity if you take them as such. Your biggest threat comes not from the comment, but from the reaction and bad choices spurred by either arrogance or thin skin or both.

A few basic tips on handling negative blog comments you may find helpful:

  • If you have concerns you can moderate your blog comments (must be approved by you before posted) and many bloggers do this. Just be sure you check your comments often and make sure you approve them quickly so you don’t interrupt the conversations. However, I think its better to use the technology we have available today to be wired in enough so that you can moderate comments in real time, openly and without what some might view as censorship.
  • Acknowledge and respond. It’s your blog and you don’t have to post any negative or critical comment, but putting aside troll and spam comments, if someone is unhappy with you and you block them, they may just go to their own blog or another channel to voice their opinion – a channel you don’t have any control over.
  • Social is a conversation and that means you have a planet full of co-authors who can provide your readers with further information, personal experience and balance to a given point of view.
  • Know the difference between a personal attack and a differing opinion. I never approve (or I’ll remove) a comment which goes ad hominem and I won’t edit a comment to make it OK for posting – if it’s a personal attack, I won’t give it any attention.
  • Focus. I try to be very careful how I respond to a negative or critical comment. Even a reply which you think is self effacing might come off as snarky and that could give events a life of their own. Don’t try to be cute or funny when responding. Get to the heart of the matter, address the poster’s concern and if need be, ask for clarification so you can clear up any misunderstanding.
  • Kill them with kindness. Give yourself a pat on the back that you motivated someone to comment on your post even if they don’t agree with you and make sure you demonstrate some sincere appreciation for them taking the time to comment.
  • Don’t edit blog comments. If there’s something there you don’t like that much then don’t post the comment or remove it. As a commenter, the only thing I can think of which would annoy me more than not having a comment posted is to have one edited.
  • Be fair. It’s easy for me to tell you that when you are wrong or make a mistake (which will happen), you should admit it right away. You should admit your mistakes and learn from them. However, with a corporate blog there can be other factors/stakeholders involved. If you are not 100 percent positive, get a second opinion.

Comments can be gold. A blog post which generates a lot of comments is also generating a lot of engagement, page views and possibly attracting a lot of new traffic. As I mentioned, you don’t just have readers now, but participants and co-authors who can add so much more to your posts. Whenever possible, each post you write should be aimed at generating discussion.

There’s a lot of gut instinct involved here. If the commenter is trolling then giving them any attention is the wrong thing to do. However, constructive criticism and feedback is another thing entirely – the key is to know the difference and keep ego out of that decision.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few tips and you may not agree with some of my advice, which is why I’m glad we have comments here so that you can add your thoughts and make this post just that much better. Please share your advice and tips on handling negative blog comments!

This blog was originally published on Social Marketing Forum (read more here) and has moved as part of an integration. Join the community and author on LinkedIn.