If you’re online for any length of time, you’re bound to get flamed. If you are thinking about getting your small business online, there is the potential of being attacked online.

We have CAVE People (what Jack Schultz calls the Citizens Against Virtually Everything), we have coffee shops full of people quick to criticize and slow to help, and we have a gossip about every 20 feet. And our experiences with unmoderated online forums, like anonymous comments on newspaper sites, are not positive. So it’s natural for people to worry.

Here are four strategies to help you survive the inevitable flames and even respond appropriately to online attacks.

  1. Always thank them for engaging. You’re from a small town. Don’t forget to be polite, even to those who may be rude to you.
  2. Acknowledge the truths. Many online rants are tied to at least a seed of truth. Make sure you are honest about those points.
  3. Fix what you can. Nothing sucks the life out of a firestorm faster than solving the problem.
  4. Know when to move on. This is another coffee shop skill. Sometimes, the best thing to do is not engage them at all, or to end a conversation. Don’t be afraid to do the same online. 

Perhaps the best advice I can give you to avoid or survive the flames is to over communicate. Make sure you are getting important messages out to the right people through as many channels as possible.