PR News | How to handle negative comments on social media

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Matt Cayola

While criticizing people and companies is nothing new, social media platforms have made negative comments from bad actors have a much bigger and more lasting impression on audiences.

Plus, with platforms like Twitter and Yelp making it easy for people to create fake accounts, the anonymity people can get on the internet makes some of these bad actors much more comfortable with the loss of their sense of respect, decency and good manners, which in turn causes them to share negative comments on these platforms.

Fortunately, businesses can handle this type of feedback in several ways.

Quick response

When a business is the target of a negative comment on social media, the business should respond as quickly as possible. The longer a negative review goes unanswered by a business, the more time it gives others to see that someone has complained about a business without the business responding.

By addressing negative feedback they receive as soon as possible, businesses can prevent them from snowballing into something that is potentially more negative or damaging to a business and its reputation. A single negative comment or response on social media will be much less of a problem for a business, compared to a negative post or blog post which can have a lasting effect on a business’s reputation.

When a business responds quickly to a negative comment, it shows the public that the business cares about its customers and listens to what they have to say. This allows other potential customers, as well as members of the public, to better understand how dedicated a company is to its customers.

Privacy

Businesses should respond publicly to negative comments first, then steer the conversation to a more private communication channel. For example, if a customer is particularly negative or difficult to deal with, it is best for companies to run all communications with that particular customer through a private mode of communication.

Businesses can do this by sending the customer an email or private message, or even calling them and explaining that the business wants to discuss the matter further in a way that gives the customer a more personalized experience. This way, businesses will give these negative customers and their feedback the attention they are trying to get from the business, without making the entire interaction public for anyone to see and possibly misunderstand.

Deleting comments

There are some instances where it is perfectly acceptable for businesses to delete negative feedback they receive. These cases include whenever someone comments on a topic unrelated to the content, or if their comment contains offensive language. In these types of cases, there is no harm in deleting that person’s negative comment.

However, if someone has a sincere complaint about a business, the business should never delete that comment. People can be incentivized to share even more negative comments if they end up being censored, and this type of situation can make it seem like the company is hiding something, which is not good for any brand.

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Matt Caiola is co-CEO and practice lead for technology and corporate communications at 5WPR.


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