Turning Negative Blog Comments Positive – A "How To" Tutorial

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been capitalizing on a negative comment left on Bike198.com by turning it into conversation and positive outcomes. During your blogging, you are going to come across differing opinions. That is normal! The trick is how to turn the blatantly negative comments into positive assets on your blog. Now…before we jump straight into this and I show you exactly what I did and how I accomplished it…there needs to be something clarified…

I ignore 99% of rant comments in my emails and comments sections. I get a very small amount of these types of comments and emails, but there are some people in this world that are just out to bring others down. Most of the time, it is better to just ignore them and move on unless you think by answering them…you can bring value to your blog. They have nothing to lose by spouting off and you have everything to lose by reacting in a way that can lose you credibility in the long run.

My Negative Rant Comment on Bike198

As most of you already know, I am an Aweber cheerleader for newsletter distribution. Part of Awebers features provides you with quality feedback on why a reader unsubscribes to your newsletter by providing that reader with a comment section. Once they unsubscribe and fill out that comment section, you get the info so you can better tailor your newsletter. Here is the comment I received from the reader that started this story.

I am unsubscribing because your website is just another commercial website. I am tired of commercialism; I prefer bicycles as a utilitarian vehicle, not a two – wheeled sport utility vehicle where the price of Chinese – made frames and components continually escalates. I think the founding fathers of mountain biking never wanted mountain biking to become the plaything of a small group of capitalists.

You have to admit…the amount of force and anger in this comment is pretty laughable on its own, but – like any cycling based blog owner – I had a defined opinion on his rant. Once I decided that I wanted to answer this reader back on his claims, I also decided it would be great feedback and conversation to post on the blog. The next day, I posted up this readers comment and my response.

You can find that response article here…The #1 Most Interesting Comment Left On Mountain Biking by 198

By reading that article, you can see I did one of a couple of things.

I did not jump into the mud with him – I created a well structured “you are allowed to have your opinion, but here is mine” response that did not flame the commenter. He can have his opinion, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have mine! So…I responded in a way that was not antagonistic…just a response.

I invited the opinions of my readers – By increasing the conversation around the subject, you are further engaging your readers on your blog. Controversial topics in your niche can be a huge source of traffic and comments when done correctly.

The Short Term Result Of The Response?

That article got a ton of traffic as my readers spread it through the web on Facebook and Twitter. I also got some of the most involved/deep responses out of my readers as they responded to the commenter with their own opinions and ideals. These comments ranged from just a difference in opinion to some readers really getting irritated that the guy would even type something like that!

One of my readers even went as far as saying…

Robb you are doing a great job here and may you make millions or at least a very good life for you and yours from this little verbal adventure you have here.

(See…your readers do want you to make money with your blog!)

By creating a conversation around a difference of opinion, I was able to create a valuable asset to my blog that brought my readers closer together. As a blogger, that should be your goal as you continue to grow a community around your words. In the short term, the article was a huge success and I gained a lot more than the 1 reader I lost.

The Long Term Result – You Never Know Who Is Watching…

In the long term, this article and my response benefitted my blog in a HUGE way and this is a perfect lesson in “you never know who is watching your blog”. Several days after I posted the article, I received an email from Breezer Bikes. In this email, one of the employees (who follows my newsletter and blog) thought it would be a great idea if I interviewed his boss about the comment left on my blog. For those of you that do not already know, his boss is Joe Breeze who is the founder of modern day mountain biking. Joe was the first one to make an offroad specific bike frame back in the ’70’s.

I was stoked!! I wanted to take the opportunity by the horns, so I drafted up my questions and shot them off. After several emails back and forth, we got to talking about the direction that Mountain Biking by 198 was heading. I sent him over my new logos and we talked about my expansion into the other cycling disciplines. Breezer Bikes happens to make some of the best commuter bikes on the market, so…due to the article and conversation…I know have a fantastic $2,000 commuter bike in my garage to review on the new urban section of Bike198.com getting released next year!

You can find the interview with Joe Breeze here…Interview: Joe Breeze – Founding Father of Mountain Biking

What Should You Take Away From This Story

Negative comments are not a bad thing. Sometimes there is a little bit of truth in  negative rants, but you need to get a thick skin and realize that negative comments are just part of blogging. Sometimes, like in this case, you can actually turn those negative rants into quality content that can be a real asset in your blogging. If the comment is a hot button topic in your niche, capitalize on the opportunity and structure a well educated response. The communication with your readers will be amazing.

The part that makes me laugh through this entire ordeal is that the reader was trying to bring me down with his rant…but instead…he actually helped me by doing the following:

  • Increased my traffic through 2 high profile articles that increased subscribers.
  • Gained me another valuable industry contact for review product and networking.
  • Got me another expensive bike to review on my site.
  • And most importantly…opened up the chance for me to talk to one of the founding fathers in my niche.

So…a huge thank you goes out to my rant comment leaver…you brought me a lot these past two weeks through your several lines of words.

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Ryan November 19, 2009 - 12:07 pm
Non-resistance is the way to go. Your experience proves it. Either ignore negativity or use it constructively. Just don't engage.
Brad Edgar November 19, 2009 - 7:13 pm
This is great! The guy tries to make you look bad and in turn, it actually benefits you. I like the way you handled this. It's funny because I founded my blog on this idea. Controversial materials and information can promote growth if it is done in a respectful way.
Robb Sutton November 19, 2009 - 7:30 pm
You got it! As long as you keep things respectful...they can really be an asset to your blogging.
Francis November 19, 2009 - 7:17 pm
Hey Robb, Nice article. I received a not-so-negative (my opinion at first) comment on my last blog post (The Mad Scientist is back). After thinking about the comment it's now giving me the impression that he's trying to bring me/my site down in a subtle manner. I'll try this out. Thanks for this How-To :)
Robb Sutton November 19, 2009 - 7:31 pm
The MTB world is filled of forum hero's...you are going to run into that from time to time.
Ben Lang November 19, 2009 - 7:22 pm
Great idea. Those comments can be very productive!
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