Monday, August 1, 2011

Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”  Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

Realizing and adapting this is of paramount importance in case of social media.

With social media taking the center stage in today’s internet marketing, it is no more about ‘what stories you tell your customers’ but it is more about ‘What stories your customers tell each other’. Now obviously, the stories will be positive as well as negative. 

While you benefit from social media with honest feedback, user engagement and user community building, there are also times when you will hear things which you don’t necessarily like to hear – those are negative comments about your product, brand, service or the experience you deliver to the customer.

So how do you handle negative comments on social media? Well, here is a small checklist for the same:

1.   Be Alert and Acknowledge: Just as you acknowledge compliments with a prompt ‘thank you’, the first thing you got to do with negative comment is acknowledge it. Remember, you have to demonstrate that you are LISTENING. Don’t think that if you ignore it, it’s going to die anyway after a few days. 
2.   Be Honest and Accept: This is true for any kind of conversation on social media. In case of negative comment, be honest and accept if you believe it truly is a mistake on your end. This will hugely benefit you in terms of earning the trust of the user. Never get aggressive or challenge the people. Acceptance is the key.
3.    Provide Solution: Just acknowledging the comment and being honest about accepting it is not going to help. You need to provide a solution. The solution could be in terms of solution to the problem, a workaround or if that’s not possible, then it could be an update on what you have done or will do at your end to ensure that the issue does not repeat.

Some obvious questions which could come to mind are:

What if there is a situation where another user has pitched in and provided the solution? What should be your action as a brand? I would say you still follow the same above mentioned steps.

What if you need additional data points to resolve the problem? In that case, ask for the data points in public forum (wherever possible) and discuss the issue openly. That will have multiple advantages: a) Other users could come forward and assist you in solving the problem and b) it will convey a positive image as a brand which is open to discuss issues, is transparent and genuinely wants to solve the problem of its users.

What if you know that the comments have been purposely planted because of some vested interests? Even if this is the case, you need to remember that others are watching your reaction and they do not necessarily know about the vested interests. The way you handle the situation will create your image. So handle it just the same way as you would handle a genuine comment. 

Don’t be afraid of negative comments on social media. Rather than any harm, those could benefit your brand – provided you handle them properly!


  1. Hi Radha - Interesting evolution. Thanks for sharing. The 3 tips above are actually pretty helpful. I think feedback in general requires a well thought through policy. Being generic helps no one - especially the submitter. What do you think?

    You might like to read this - (5 tips on how to give great feedback)

    P.S - your name can be made into a verb and used like 'Dude - you're really good at radhagiri.' You should consider spinning a brand around your name. :)

  2. @Sameer: Feedback certainly requires a lot of thought. I liked your article on feedback. Thanks for sharing.
    About the name being the brand name: For now I will like to accept it as a compliment. So thanks for that too :)

  3. Great article! I would like to point out another great way of dealing with negative comments that are not relevant or constructive is to simply delete that comment. I hate to do it because often time is stirs discussion and encourages people to respond but if it serves no point other than creating conflict why leave it there?

  4. @SJ Marketing: Even I would really not like to delete any comment. Instead, would prefer responding to it. If it is not relevant, how about stating that (of course, mildly). If it is not constructive, you can choose not to respond to it. Deleting I think might show the brand's incapability of handling comments.

  5. Yes, Its Correct way to handling social media