Managing Online Comments About Your Product or Company
The Internet is all about interactive communication. Unlike traditional media and its one-way messaging, online media let the customer talk back to you – typically in the form of comments to a company blog, Facebook page, YouTube video, and the like.
Customer comments are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll receive a lot of plaudits for your work, as well as useful customer feedback. On the other hand, you’ll receive some complaints, as well – including some that are downright nasty.
How should you respond to these customer comments? Or should you just block all comments from the get go? Unfortunately, there’s no one universal solution for dealing with online comments; how you respond depends a lot on the culture of your individual company.
To Enable Comments or Not - That is the Question
Let’s start with the basic question – should you enable and encourage comments on your company blog, Facebook page, YouTube videos, and such? In most cases, you have the option of either enabling or disabling the comments feature.
There’s a lot to be said for encouraging customer comments, not the least of which is how gratifying it is to hear from satisfied customers. Customer comments can also be a great source of customer feedback – and for free, which is a lot better than expensive market research.
On the downside, when you enable comments, you open a real Pandora's Box. Yes, you'll receive some useful comments from satisfied customers, but you'll also receive your share of negative comments – some of which might be particularly vicious and even personal. Do you really want to expose those negative comments to everyone else online?
Whether you enable or disable comments depends on how thick a skin you have, corporate-wise. Some companies want to see only positive comments, which is fine but not necessarily realistic; you’ll never have 100% approval of anything you do. Other companies are more open minded and don't mind the negative comments; they feel it presents a forthright, warts-and-all image to the market.
If your company can take the bad with the good – and can stomach some of inevitable vicious attacks – then by all means, enable comments in all your social media. But if you really don’t like anybody saying anything bad about you, consider disabling comments; it may not be worth the hassle.
There is a middle ground, of course. Instead of simply enabling or disabling comments, some media let you moderate those comments you receive. With comment moderation, you have the opportunity to approve or disapprove comments before they go “live” online. It’s a bit more work, and can reek a bit of censorship, but can help protect against hatemongers online – to a degree.
You see, while you can control comments on your own website, blog, or Facebook page, you can’t control what others say about you on their own blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and the like. There’s no way to suppress all negative (or positive) comments about your company or products online; if somebody has something bad to say about you, they’ll find a place to say it.
When it comes to enabling or disabling comments, there’s no right or wrong. Just remember that if you enable comments, you will receive some negative ones. How you respond to those negative comments depends on your how your company deals with criticism.