Dealing with Negative Internet Comments

JUN 18, 2012 10:46am ET

Your friend calls you and says, “Hey, did you know that somebody said something bad about you online?” And just as you thought you were the best thing since sliced bread!

What a way to ruin your day!

Nobody’s perfect. But with social media, blogs, forums and articles posted in the millions each day, you need—no, it’s critical—to you monitor your online reputation.

Here are a couple of tips on how to stay on top of what people are saying about you—and nine things you can do to protect your online reputation.

Google has a feature called “Google Alerts.” Type in your name, your company’s name or both and Google will email you an “alert” whenever someone posts your name on the web—including blogs. Google Alerts tells you where your name is being mentioned—right now! http://www.google.com/alerts

Search your own name on both www.Google.com and www.Bing.com. They are two separate search engines—giving you two different results! Each site will give you links to the blogs and websites you have shown up on in the past.

Google your name with the word “complaints” (i.e. Mary Smith Complaints): There are plenty of websites where people can complain about you.

 If you belong to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin (or other social media sites) they also provide you ways to check on what people are saying about you. 

Accept the fact that not everyone is going to like you. Once you learn that someone is dissing you online, here are some things to consider: 

Is it true?

Do you know who made the comment? Consider the source. Sometimes you know who dissed you. However, there are those cowards who will slander you anonymously! If you find someone hiding behind an avatar or fake name, call him or her out! Comment to the effect that since they won’t identify who they are, you refuse to give any credibility to their statement until they tell you who they are.

Is more than one person saying this about you? Whoa, you’ve got a bigger problem here. If is true—or you can see why they feel that way about you—you’ll need to address each complaint or comment on each blog page.

Do you ignore the comment? Some of the comments are just plain stupid—and other can tell if the person is being unreasonable. Refer back to No. 2—consider the source. You can choose to just ignore it--but keep on monitoring the site by adding it to your “favorites”.

Do you make a comment online or email the person privately? The comments you make online will be there forever—so be careful what you say—especially if you are upset! Write out what you plan to say—then ask someone else to read it. Hold off sending for a few days. Or, if you have the person’s email address, it might be better to comment to them privately. Yeah, they could always cut and paste your email comments but they are less likely to do so.

If you still think the post about you is stupid—and you don’t choose to ignore it, you can always say you don’t feel the comments are justified and that’s all you’re going to say about it!

Do you understand what they are saying about you? Everyone has his or her own way of interpreting a comment or a situation. Ask a couple of your friends to read the comments—and see how they interpret them.

Do you apologize? If you decide that an apology is in order, not only should you apologize, but state how you will change the process or behavior, but how to plan to “make it right."

Do you dispute the comment? If you have a difference of opinion or dispute what the person is saying about you—say so! Ask your friends to make favorable comments about you too! You need to defend yourself because no one else will and if that means enlisting the help of your friends, so be it!

Should you hire someone to “bury” it? Depending upon how bad the comments are about you, you have another option. There are Search Engine webmasters who can “bury” their comments so deep into the web that they will be difficult for anybody to find.

On the other side of the coin, each time someone says something nice about you, definitely thank them online—and comment back.

However, the only way you’ll ever know is that you monitor and become vigilant about your online reputation!

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