How to Manage Negative Comments on Social Media

One of the main reasons to use social media is to reach out and engage with people so you need to be able to take the good with the bad. If things do go wrong, the key is to deal with negative comments effectively.

Many business owners I meet tell me that, even though they think social media could help their business, they stay away from it because they are concerned about negative feedback.  This could be a tweet or a post filled with expletives or disappointing comments about a customer experience gone wrong.

In reality, this is the same as a customer complaint in your offline business. These people want to make sure you know the details of their unpleasant experiences. The main difference is that they also want to make sure their entire network knows too.

While most of these are customers who believe they have a genuine reason to complain, there are also internet trolls who are just out there to make trouble.


What Are Trolls?Keep Calm and Use Humour, Facts and Kindness to deal with negative comments

Trolls are the people online who purposefully stir up trouble in social media communities. It’s important for companies to deal effectively with trolls so they don’t tarnish your brand and impact your online presence.

You do need to keep your cool. The best way to deal with trolls is to use humour, facts and kindness in responding to them, as you do need to respond. Trolls are people too, and respect is the best policy online.

The best way to deal with trolls is to use humour, facts and kindness. Trolls are people too. Click To Tweet

In my experience, your community, loyal customers and fans are usually very quick to take up the baton on your behalf and make a favourable comment and, as always, what others say about you is more powerful than your own comments.


Know what’s being said

Even if your business doesn’t have a dedicated social media presence, you still need to know what people are saying about your company online. A simple way to do this is with a service such as Google Alerts.  There you can choose relevant words or phrases or your company name and adjust the frequency you receive notifications.


Managing Negative Comments

Don’t delay speed is of the essence and you do need to respond and not ignore the comment. When you’re tweeting or engaging with customers on behalf of your business, there’s “netiquette” to consider, including how to best address negative comments.

I recommend the following seven steps to deal with these types of comments:

1.  Read the message carefully

What is the root of the problem? How can you help? Did they really mean to be offensive or was it meant as a joke or sarcasm?

2.  Take a screenshot

It’s a good idea to document the message. It can be used for training or to share with a colleague who might want to follow-up.

3.  Don’t delete it!

Remain transparent with your audience. Deleting messages rather than dealing with them directly suggests you might have something to hide. Sometimes though you may need to delete inappropriate or derogatory comments but consider it carefully.

4. Don’t delay

Timeliness is important. Most social media users expect to see a response within one hour.

5. Keep cool

Draft your response. Reread your final draft before sending it. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable saying it to a customer’s face. Your response will be judged not only by the user you’re conversing with but also by all your followers too.

6.  Respond

Send your response. If possible, provide an apology and a solution. This is your opportunity to convert a disgruntled customer into a fan.

7.  Monitor

Continue to monitor your social accounts to track any activity that happens after you’ve responded. You need to avoid getting drawn into a string of comments.


Good Advice

One of the best pieces of advice I heard was from Guy Kawasaki, a leading social media and marketing expert, and that was to:

“embrace the rules of amateur boxing and fight for only three rounds. The opening bell is when you share a post. Ding-ding. Round 1: Commenter comments. Round 2: You respond. Round 3: Commenter responds to the response. End of fight.”

Remember: treat people on social media the same way you would if you were dealing in person. Click To Tweet

Whatever happens, don’t just ignore negative comments and hope they will go away.  Remember to treat people on social media the same way you would if you were dealing with them in person. This will go a long way to helping you manage and protect your business’ reputation online.



A shorter version of this article originally appeared in The Bury Free Press.

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