On Wednesday night Joel Ward, winger for the Washington Capitals, scored a game-winning goal in overtime to knock the Boston Bruins out of the NHL playoffs and shattered their hopes of winning the Stanley Cup two years in a row. As expected this set off Twitter and led to numerous tweets talking about the goal and either celebrating or wallowing in sorrow. What wasn’t expected was the content of a lot of these tweets. Joel Ward is a hockey player from Canada and he also happens to be black. A lot of heartbroken Bruins fans began tweeting racial slurs and other derogatory things towards the Capitals and, more specifically, Joel Ward. A professional athlete was just doing his job; he doesn’t need to face ignorant tweets of this type. This same kind of situation can present itself to a company on Twitter. When a company engages in social media marketing they are opening themselves up to the world. They are creating pages where users can come and write anything they want, good or bad. You’d be surprised what people are willing to write and say when they are able to hide behind their computer screens. So what should a company do? One method of handling these posts is to simply delete them. However, this can lead to even more backlash if customers find out you are deleting their negative feedback. An online marketing firm is one option that I’d strongly recommend. They will be experienced with handling negative comments and can help steer the conversation back into an acceptable place. You’re never going to be able to completely separate yourself or your company from receiving nasty comments. What you can do is prepare yourself to handle them when you do need to face them. Joel Ward was just another unlucky victim of the ignorance that exists on Twitter and other social media platforms. Be prepared to deal with this ignorance if you ever need to meet it head on.