“Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”

Someone wrote a scathing review of your company’s product on their blog–now what?

Well, you can either ignore it or you can respond. In traditional PR, you’d be shirking your duties if you didn’t follow-up with the reporter. Same goes with social media, except the world can see your response. Whether the post is positive or negative, you have to comment.

Here are a few tips to ensure you comment with success:

  • Take a deep breath!
    • Sometimes the excitement (or hate) can cloud a clear head. Remember, it’s the Internet and everything will be a part of your permanent record. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your mother/future boss/customer/client to read
  • Acknowledge and thank the blogger for their feedback/comments/insight/linklove
    • Remember, we are listening now. Whether you agree with it or not, they put effort into their post and their feedback can provide a snapshot of what your customers or other reporters/bloggers are thinking
  • You’re building a relationship, which means accountability and honest discussion.
    • Try to address the concerns and tell them what you are doing or plan on doing to fix any problems. If it was a positive piece, write something that can help build the discussion or add deeper insight into the topic
    • Cut the marketing speak and messaging. Read what the blogger is saying and respond as a human, not a PR-bot
  • Transparency and full disclosure
    • Let readers know you are with the company or represent the company. It’s about ethics.
  • DO NOT try to pad the comments with anonymous or fictitious posts
    • You may not see it when you read the post, but bloggers can see the IP address of every comment. Several comments from the same IP addy looks suspicious and a simple search can rat you out

Some stellar examples from comments in socialTNT’s past:

Kevin Cuneo’s reply to a potentially critical post in “You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

Hi Chris,

Over here at Yoono we completely agree that Twitter is a great way to connect with our community. And we find Summize to be the best way to monitor Twitter. I love how it lets you know there’s more results since your last search. (I was also using it to track my replies when that feature went down on Twitter.)

We’re going a mile a minute over here so unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day to respond to negative comments and assist users via Twitter. However, we try to get to as many as we can and if they aren’t responded to, users can rest assured they were read and taken into account. Although we love good feedback, we think any feedback is worthwhile in helping us craft a superior product.

With that said I’m off to check in on Summize, looks like I have nine results up since my last search.

Great post, keep up the good work. And we’re all looking forward to Marie’s review!


Kevin Cuneo
Yoono Community Evangelist
kcuneo (at) yoono (dot) com

Kevin didn’t make excuses. He acknowledged the concerns and addressed the problem thoughtfully.

Reply to a positive post from “Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”


Chris – As a member of Dell’s digital media team, I think you’ve done as fine a job as anyone to summarize how the company has worked to move on to a new chapter. It’s been a wild ride, but the journey has only just begun. Today, we view the integration of social media technologies as a natural evolution of our business and an exciting new dimension in which to deal directly with our customers.

In this comment, John acknowledged the statements in the post. He also adds to the post by telling the readers what Dell will be doing in the future.

Conclusion: Both John and Kevin effectively stated their company’s point of view without sounding arrogant. It’s a delicate balance. Just imagine you were having a discussion with your mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/brother or anyone else you love but sometimes have disagreements with.

How do you respond to negative comments? What tips or tricks can you share? Any examples of stellar commenting in action? Let us know in the comments

Don’t miss out: Grab our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Message Board” by Emmy_P on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]



Filed under Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0

10 responses to ““Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”

  1. This was my life for the whole of this week, but in my case we had been misrepresented on one blog, which was then picked up by nearly a 100 other blogs. I’m going to be writing up a case study for my own blog soon, sorry, have to be a wee bit selfish, but wanted to share one thing that I relearned during the nuttiness:

    “Your community, if you have treated them well, will come to your defense in times of crisis.”


  2. Hey Kyle! Thanks for your comment! Sounds like you had a painful week. Can’t wait to hear how you handled it!

  3. When there’s a negative post about Powerset, I try to decide whether the person is being a genuine asshole or whether they’re just misinformed. If it’s the former, silence is the best policy. But, gently giving people knowledge often can create a good relationship and/or a derivative post that’s more complimentary.

    Tough skin is important =)

  4. Mark: Agreed. There are a lot of people on the Internet that just want to pick a fight. The question then is: Are they actually saying something meaningful? Even if it may be angry ranting about a product, it might still need to be addressed. If they are saying “Company X is lame,” then that might not need a comment. If it is “Company X is lame because A, B, C and D,” it’s probably best to comment and address their issues.

    Do you have any comments you’ve left that you would like to share?

  5. Cas

    Excellent post and right on the money.

  6. @Chris Sure, one of my best examples was a fruitful exchange I had with a gentleman named Stephen Smoliar. He wrote a lukewarm review of Powerset right after the launch. I made a brief comment, tied in a bit of a personal angle (philosophy) and suggested that he try it out a little bit more and write another post. This sparked a fruitful e-mail debate and another blog post that was more in depth. Subsequently, he referred to Powerset in a number of his blog posts. He probably would have just dismissed Powerset if: 1) I had ignored the original post or 2) Left a curt, nasty comment. I made a friend, learned a thing or two about my product, and got a few more posts.

  7. Mark: Thanks for sharing those! They are great examples.

  8. Have to say, this is one of my fave socialTNT posts to date. 🙂 Thanks, Chris and all the commenters for the insight.

  9. Pingback: “Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts” « Floating Life

  10. Great post with some good insights. I also wanted to let you know that the RSS feed link isnt working. (maybe its just Google Chrome?)

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