The web is a funny place. One minute you find real stories of altruism, where strangers band together to help someone they've never met nor will ever meet. Stories of real humanity and compassion, stuff that truly warms your heart.
Then you have the OTHER side of the Internet. It's undoubtedly more common; out of nowhere you're blindsided by a random person's negative comment. For whatever reason, this person seems to flat out hate you and everything you stand for. If they had been there for your birth they would have booed. And you have no idea what you did - you're just trying to run a business!
So how, as an online business owner, do you deal with negativity? It's one thing to get honest feedback, but truly pointlessly angry and hurtful comments do no good at all and just ruin your day if you let them. How should you deal with these people?
Ignore, Rebut, Delete
The way I see it, you have three options when somebody crawls out of the ooze to spread negativity across your existence. As soon as you get the notification or see a comment elsewhere on the web, you have to make a choice. Should you answer it and try to rebut what they claim, ignore it completely, or delete it from existence?
Obviously the third option is taken away if the comment is on a webpage of which you have no control. Well, unless the comment is pure libel, then that's another matter entirely. But otherwise, you must choose between just ignoring it or answering the call.
Now, you have to keep in mind that sometimes people just want to vent and complain. No matter how great your company is eventually someone will find something to whine about. You've probably even done it yourself - your favorite frozen yogurt place changed all their toppings so you go online to complain how they're ruining your life.
That person probably lost perspective just like you did with the frozen yogurt place. So you have to ask yourself: is there anything to this comment I can use, or is it just complete nonsense that I should ignore?
Every Little Bit Counts
Every opportunity you have to interact with your customers and make a positive impression on the world should be taken. Even when the comment is just some angry person venting aimlessly you still have a moment to show people what you're made of.
Is there anything in the person's negative diatribe you can use or reply to? Knowing full well you may get further negativity when you reply, is it worth it to try? If so, go for it. You may not change the mind of the person you're talking to, but others will see how you handle tough situations. When the time comes to check out your business, they'll already have a positive image of you in their head.
If you can say with certainty the original comment is just someone trying to troll you, then there's probably no reason to even talk to them. Whether you ignore or delete them is up to you - honestly, if there's no real harm, you might as well leave it. Other users will see right through their vitriol and ignore it anyway.
However, if there's any chance of you making an impact on someone in regards to your company, take the shot and use the opportunity to better your company's public image and maybe even win over a fan!