It’s not fair, but I want to ask you not to respond to online catcalls in the heat of the moment.
I know. I know. People are awful. They call us names. They suggest we aren’t doing our jobs. They bait us. And the same anonymous posters do it again and again. It’s aggravating, particularly when you have just worked a 10-hour day and you know the whiner doesn’t even buy your product. (Imagine Target or Taco Bell or anyone else with a product to sell allowing the kinds of complaints we get on our websites?)
But here’s the deal: When you reply to these lovely people, you elevate their lowly existence. Some things are just beneath us and don’t require a reply. Online readers are fairly sophisticated, by and large, and perfectly capable of separating the legitimate complaint from jack-assery. You don’t need to point it out for them.
Now a couple caveats. …
- You don’t have to allow all comments. In fact, you shouldn’t. If someone, anonymously or otherwise, is unfairly personal to you or your staff, delete it. There is no First Amendment right to post on our sites whatsoever. You want to encourage free speech but it should also be civil. …
- I’m not suggesting that you should never engage with commenters. To the contrary. You should do that when they are reasonable, civil and making legitimate points or asking real questions. And when you do, your replies should also meet those same standards. Wick social media accounts are not the place for you to air grievances or platforms from which to return fire.
I hope that makes sense. In the months to come I’ll be asking for some folks to help us put together best practices for use of social media. But I think this is a good place to start and something about which we can all agree.