How to Handle Negative Comments Like a Pro

23 November 2020

No business likes getting negative comments on its social media. Not only is it bad PR, but it simply doesn’t feel good. The anonymous nature of the online world changes people’s behaviour. Because they generally don’t face any real life consequences for what they say, they are more comfortable using direct, harsh or often abusive language. Of course, it’s important for businesses to be able to sift the constructive criticism from the so-called hate. Some negative feedback includes useful insights that your business can use to improve and develop.

If your business falls victim to trolling, don’t worry, you are certainly not alone. Here’s what to do to turn the situation around.

Don’t delete

While it’s understandable why businesses would be tempted to remove negative comments that are on their social media for everybody to read, try to resist the urge. Deleting a comment suggests you have something to hide. It might also make the original commenter angry, and there’s a high chance they’ll comment again with something even worse. Of course, if you are receiving sustained and unsubstantiated vitriol from the same user, simply block them. And there are also a few exceptions to the deleting rule. We recommend implementing a zero tolerance policy towards racist, xenophobic, derogatory or pornographic comments.

Another tip is to take a screenshot of the comment and make note of the time and date. Make it a learning opportunity by discussing it with your team and working out how to handle it next time.

Stay calm

The single most important thing to remember is not to lose your cool. A negative comment is enough bad PR without replying in a childish or defensive manner. Everybody gets hateful comments from time to time. And in fact, how you handle them often says more about your business than the content of the comment itself. Many businesses go down the route of ignoring these kinds of comments. Like anything, however, take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it’s appropriate to reply. More on that below.

If you need to reply, do so ASAP

Word travels fast online. Every minute counts. If you feel like the comment warrants a response, do so in a timely manner. As mentioned previously, some negative comments are simply valid expressions of disappointment, or constructive criticism. Handle these as you would reviews. We recommend asking the commenter to send you a direct message, so you can politely discuss the problem in private - there’s no need for an audience. Remember to maintain a friendly and helpful tone so that you can turn their attitude towards your company around. If the comment was pointing out an issue that has since been resolved, it’s okay to get back to them in the comments and let them know the good news.  

Sometimes, replying to straight-up hate can work well for businesses too. However, you must be extremely careful here. Many big brands use humour to deal with trolls, which can turn any such comments into a marketing opportunity. Tesco, for example, a large European supermarket chain, uses sassy clapback in response to hate, which has garnered them a huge following on Twitter. But for smaller brands, this route might not be so appropriate. Best to leave this controversial strategy to the big dogs for now.

Sassy tweet from Tesco

The team and Elephant in the Boardroom are experts at monitoring comment sections. Don’t sweat the small stuff – get on with running your business and let us take care of your social media. Not only will we deal with any negative comments, but we also design, create, schedule and post bespoke graphics that will generate positive engagement from prospective customers.

Interested? Check us at www.elephantintheboardroom.com.au.