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How to Deal with Negative Social Media Comments

Ifdy Perez is a social media strategist with a specialty in community building.

Uh oh: someone doesn’t like your brand on social media. Now what?

Don’t panic. You can have the best product or service in the world, and chances are, in the residual corners of the Internet, there is someone who doesn’t like you, and will make sure you know that.

An online presence does open the door for negative users (including trolls) to swing by and crash your party. But this isn’t the norm, so don’t let it discourage you from building an online community! You need an online community to grow your business, so don’t let some negative comment ruin the relationship you (can) have with loyal customers.

Besides, there are ways to handle the day-to-day negative social media comments you may receive. These are tips that I’ve learned through my own experience on how to handle those every-now-and-then negative comments. Feel free to chime in if you have something to add to the list!

First, Determine the Cause

Determining the context for the negative comment is important for determining the response you should take. For example, did your latest Facebook post prompt the negative comment? Is there something about your company you can tie it back to? Was someone reacting to a bad customer service experience or product problem?

Essentially, you’re asking yourself, “Were we at fault here?”

If so, you know what to do: rectify the situation. Since this is a public forum, you’ll want to respond quickly since the rest of the world can see what’s going on. Keep the exchanges short (one or two exchanges tops), acknowledge the shortfall, and redeem your fault with a willingness to help the customer.

Take this as an opportunity to show your company’s good customer service, but keep the details of the resolution private. Ask that person to privately message you their contact info, or ask them to email/call a customer service rep to take it offline. The reason being you don’t want opportunists to think you give away refunds like candy.

On the other hand, if what prompted the comment wasn’t your fault, then there are things to keep in mind before replying.

Then, Determine the Right Response

I’ve come across many different reasons as to why an individual posts a negative comment on a page. Sometimes, they have a legitimate concern, such as a personal issue with the product. Other times, they just needed to blow off steam, and our Page was the place for them to go.

In any case of a not-at-fault negative comment, think about which battles you’re going to fight. First consider if it’s even necessary to respond.


Some may disagree, but at times there simply isn’t anything productive for the company to say. The last thing you want is to engage in a back-and-forth discussion with a customer acting angrily and irrationally. Sometimes the person may not be looking for a resolution, so it may be more prudent to stay quiet.

But if there is a statement that your company needs to reply to, such as a gross misunderstanding about your company, you can do so by being polite and warm. Consider taking an hour or two before responding, and if possible, ask a colleague to look over your draft response. Think about how you can reply in a sentence or two that acknowledges the person (you can start with a “We appreciate your comment, so-and-so”) and sweetly resolves the issue. Most of the time, the person will come back with an appreciative response!

When to Delete or Ban

Now and then you may encounter the rogue troll. This is the person who won’t be happy with anything you do. Don’t be intimidated by them, though. Remember that this is your community and your rules.

If you’ve tried responding politely to no avail, click on that “Delete and Ban” button. That person has no business on your Page if they can’t follow the community’s rules of engagement, especially if profanity or offensive statements are made.

Again, these tips would best serve you for day-to-day engagement policy towards negative comments you may receive. If something a little more involved were to happen, say a big online blow-up, you may need to implement a more involved crisis plan.

Now, do you have your towel ready?

For more social media marketing advice from Ifdy Perez on the Vocus Blog, click here.

Image: Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

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