lifestyle PR + digital media

5 tips for dealing with negative social media comments

July 23, 2019

Anyone who has managed social media channels—or even anyone regularly uses social media, AKA every last one of us—knows that, at some point, people will have beef with your brand. Unfortunately, people tend to take to the Internet most when they’re unhappy, so it’s common for social media managers to feel like much of their time is spent dealing with angry—and often completely untrue—comments. 

So how should a social media manager handle negative comments on client channels? There are various strategies on how to deal with these kinds of comments. At Sprocket, our general advice goes like this: 

  • Be prepared. At Sprocket, our philosophy around dealing with negative comments starts with preparation; that’s why we create crisis plans for clients. The plans include protocols for how to handle negative comments and who to contact from the brand, as well as approved language for potentially common complaints. 
  • Respond quickly. Letting a comment sit and fester on a page without response doesn’t help anyone; it actually does more damage by attracting more followers to engage with the negative comment.  Instead, respond directly to the comment with pre-approved crisis language or, if the negative comment is venturing into unfamiliar territory, draft language for approval from the client—and get that approval ASAP. Often, users who come to a brand’s page to post complaints just want to be heard, and quickly addressing their grievances (whether legitimate or not) can be enough to pacify them.
  • Take it to the DMs. We can’t stress this enough: upon receipt of a negative comment, a response like “We’re so sorry to hear about X. Please DM with details around your complaint and we’ll look into it for you” can go a really long way. It makes the user feel like they’re being heard and taken seriously, and it has the added benefit of not publicly airing any dirty laundry that might come from the user’s complaint. 
  • Take accountability if the complaint is justified. If you’ve worked in customer service, you’ve probably heard some version of “Messing up and making it right can take you further than not messing up ever could”. If a user’s negative comment on social media is justified, it behooves a brand to listen to that complaint, apologize authentically, and try to make it right. That might mean refunding a customer. It might mean instituting a company-wide policy to help avoid similar issues in the future. Whatever the issue, admitting guilt when guilty can do a lot to rebuild goodwill with a miffed user.
  • Block the user — but only after repeated trolling, and only as a last resort. Blocking users isn’t ideal, because sometimes it can further negative feelings toward the brand. However, in cases where a user—be it a disgruntled former employee or a customer spouting accusations—is trolling a brand page repeatedly or engaging with other customers on the brand’s page, blocking that user may be the best option. Blocking someone will remove their comments and engagement from the brand page without notifying the user. However, an SM manager who blocks a troll should be on the lookout for potential new accounts created by the troll to continue engaging negatively with the brand. 

Social media managers: how do you deal with negative social media comments?