As a general rule of thumb, most PR and marketing pros recommend always responding to comments, even if they’re more critical than constructive, in order to get ahead of the issue, address any concerns, exercise your expertise and show engagement. But, is it ever okay to not respond to negative comments on an article or blog post you’ve posted?
Here are a few instances when no response may be the best response to negative comments:
When they’re not directed at you or your commentary
If your article has been published to an online publication, you may occasionally see negative comments directed at the outlet itself. Perhaps the outlet is in trouble for reporting something factually inaccurate, or maybe a writer has been inciting controversy through editorial posts, or maybe your guest post appears to be sponsored opinion by the outlet… Whatever the reason, if the comments are not directed at you as the author or your thoughts in the article, it may be best to let them go and not wedge yourself in the middle of a different debate.
When they’re clearly self-promotional
While not necessarily negative in nature, if a comment doesn’t offer any new insights, commentary or questions about your article’s topic or stance, and simply uses it as a chance to link to their own products or services, it’s likely a waste of your time to reply. Oftentimes, these kinds of comments will be weeded out by the website manager or a spam filter, but it’s still a common practice in attempts to boost SEO and get links in front of different audiences, so beware of the self-promotional commenter.
When they’re distasteful
If your article or blog is inciting debate, reactions and controversy, you’re likely doing something right. But, controversial subjects can often fuel emotional responses. So, if comments become distasteful with crude language or suggestions, it’s best to stay above it and not acknowledge or engage with such inappropriate remarks. Stick to the intelligent debate at hand and maybe post a follow-up article to address the dissenting opinions.
When they’re ongoing and looking to pick a fight
You can only respond so many times to the same commenter before you may have to let it go or agree to disagree. If it’s an intelligent back and forth, that’s great! But, if the comments seem like they’re just looking to discredit you at every turn or pick apart your argument, it may be best to refer them to your stance within the article as a way to end the dialogue and move on to other comments worthy of a response.