Social Media FAQ #1: What if they leave negative comments on my site/blog/forum?

I’m starting a new series, called Social Media Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a collection of the top asked questions I hear over and over. I’m putting them here on my blog is a great place to help everyone quickly get educated, convince their boss, or be able to help their clients get over these hurdles, pass them around.

Social Media FAQ #1: What do I do if they leave negative comments on my site/blog/forum?

First, understand the fear of most marketing and corp comm teams, they want to show the company in it’s best light, having a mar on it’s brand is a nasty blemish that don’t want to see, in the past, a counter press release or sweeping the issue under the carpet was an option, but no more with the rise of social media. So how can you help these folks?

Well the truth of the matter is, they are going to leave negative comments about your company elsewhere on the web, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to stop this. If you delete or remove the comments from your own corporate websites, it will probably escalate in a ‘louder’ location in blogs and other forums, so don’t do that. The savvy strategist will realize that by bringing the problems and issues closer to home, you’ll actually have a few advantages:

1) You’re in the know. Being on home court gives you the ability to quickly find out issues, so why wait for them to bubble up elsewhere on the web, consider this a ‘free alerting system’ –embrace!

2) Involve them. Detractors come in many different flavors, but in most cases, these are individuals that want you to improve your product, so embrace them, acknowledge them, and get them involved in providing solutions. More often than not, after they see the effort you’ve got to help them, they could become and advocate and sing your praises.

3) An opportunity: By acknowledging and fixing these problems in public, you demonstrate confidence, openness to customer insight, and can turn this into a very positive experience.

I’ve got tons of other answers, but I’d like to hear from you all, how do you respond to this frequently asked question? Great comments will be added to this list, and I’ll credit and link to you.