How to Deal With Negative Social Media Comments

Social media is about conversations—not one-way messages. But what does the communication professional do in the face of negative comments?

Start by determining if the comment is:

  • A troll—someone who lives to bash?
  • A rant?
  • A joke?
  • Factually incorrect?
  • Factually correct?
  • Likely from a rival?
  • Merited?

Each of these types of comments require a different response. Here are some options to consider:

  • Ignore the comment. If it’s obviously ridiculous, it will be clear to other readers.
  • Remove the comment. Use this when there’s clearly no benefit to engaging in a conversation, if it’s inappropriate—or if it’s anonymous. You’re not required to provide a platform for someone who won’t even identify him/herself.
  • Take the conversation off-line. Use this to explore the problem and resolve it for that individual, if it’s likely an outlier rather than a frequently occurring event.
  • Correct the facts. Use this when the facts are likely to change reasonable readers’ opinions.
  • Explain the facts. Use this when background might be helpful.
  • Restate your position. Sometimes there’s an opportunity to convey your core values in a comment.
  • Fix the problem and report on the improvement. Nothing encourages loyalty like an organization that is truly trying to improve, and willing to listen to its customers.
  • Apologize. We all make mistakes. Sometimes owning them and offering a heartfelt apology is all a person wants.
  • Commend the post. Use this when the feedback has been helpful, and has resulted in an improvement.

The Air Force has a good Web posting response assessment that might trigger your own internal policies. 

What effective responses to negative comments have you seen?