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How to Handle Negative Comments About You and Your Business

It’s happened. You knew it would. Somebody said something bad about you and your business. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s a little bit of truth taken grossly out of context. No matter the case, how you handle negative comments can determine how much (or how little) business you will lose because of the comment.

Where Did the Negative Comment Appear?

Building a successful website is hard work and you do not want to see it destroyed by a disgruntled customer. The effect the negative comment has on your business depends greatly on where the comment appeared and how many of your potential customers are likely to be influenced by the comment.

For example, if the negative comment was just a random tweet, you probably don’t need to worry. Tweets quickly fade away, and even viral tweets are usually forgotten in a week or two.

But if your business depends upon certified feedback, like a roomshare on AirBnB or a Verified Purchase on Amazon when you have only a few other reviews, negative feedback can be devastating.

So think for yourself: how much effect will this comment have on your long-term business? If the answer is “hardly any lost business,” then the only thing you need to do to handle negative feedback is try to avoid repeating the situation which led to the negative feedback.

How to Handle Negative Comments on Facebook

If the negative Facebook comment is on your own wall or page then you can easily delete the comment. You can also post a lot of updates on your page to make the comment move into nowhere land.

If the comment is on someone else’s Facebook page then the only option is to ask the page owner to remove it, report it to Facebook for defamation, or simple ignore it.

See the screenshot below. A Pharmacy decided to promote McDonald's and got slammed for it. They stood up, did not delete the comments, and basically came out unscathed.

how to handle negative comments

They responded with this statement. See more details here.

Shoppers Drug Mart is committed to delivering value through our promotional events, so we’ve partnered with Canada’s top businesses to provide you with a range of offers. Your comments help us better understand what you value. The McDonald’s gift card promotion may not be the right fit for you, but we hope you’ll conti…nue to tell us what you want (or don’t want), so we can give you what you need in the future.

How to Handle Negative Comments on Your Blog

Handling negative comments on your own blog is easy: just do not publish them. But remember that if you do not give people their say they will probably go somewhere more public to spread the word.

I personally like to publish people’s comments and respond to them with something witty and intelligent if possible.

How to Handle Negative Comments on Other People’s Blogs

This is where you have to be careful because you have no control over the comment moderation process. This means that any harmful comments can be published and awaiting your response, publicly.

I find that the bigger the audience the worse the comments become. For example, I wrote a post called Google Is Not God and boy, did I get some mixed feedback from that! Here is a quote from an article I wrote sharing some ultimate blogging tips about how to blog:

Be prepared to be abused, called an idiot, a douche, called wrong, and more. See how I (Mitz) cop the criticisms on Yahoo Small Business Advisor but the same article on B2 community got praised.

There was one problem here. When Yahoo small business republished the article it was all out of whack! I really think they should take more care with their formatting. If they had, people might have understood the article a bit better. 

If You Need To Respond To Negative Feedback

Most customers respect people who “keep their cool.” So don’t yell or attack the person who made the negative comment. If you need to respond, state the facts of the case without placing any blame on the other person (even if it was their fault).

Let’s look at a fictional example. Someone bought something from you on eBay and they claim they never received the product even though you have delivery confirmation.

Their nasty negative comment says something like:

John Doe stole my money! He never shipped the item and he refuses to give me a refund.

Your considerate reply might say:

Item shipped on 16 July 2013. Delivery confirmed July 18th. No eBay dispute filed because item was delivered successfully.

If you’re at fault, I highly recommend that you make an apology and amends (such as refunding any money). For example, if you discover you mailed the fictional eBay package to the wrong address, your feedback might say:

My fault; shipped to wrong address. Full refund issued, plus I sent a Brownies.com delivery with apology note. I’m so sorry.

Responding to Blogs And Campaigns

Sometimes people won’t just stop with a negative comment—they’ll start a blog or a campaign to convince other people you’re horrible. If someone gets out of hand and they start spreading lies, you may need to consider a lawsuit for slander, libel, or defamation of character.

A better strategy, one which requires putting your ego aside, is to use the negative publicity to your advantage. For example, you can ask your happy customers to respond to the feedback for you:

Steve Row has started a blog claiming to reveal how bad my company is. How about everyone reading this write a post on their blog with a short description of their experience using my company—good or bad—and send both Steve and me a linkback (or a tweet)?

If you generally make your customers happy, they’ll often eagerly leap to defend your honor in public, giving you lots of great testimonials you can use for years to come.

Join The Conversation

  • Nov 13 Posted 3 years ago TimothyA

    Hi Mitz, I just wanted to say I loved your article! When I got to the part about how you were attacked on Yahoo Business Insider I just had to comment. The very same thing happened to me!

    I wrote what I thought was an informative 1000+ word article on my impressions of the new iPad Air, complete with photos, for Business 2 Community. No comments there, but when it was republished on Yahoo Business Insider (which I just happened to find out about by accident a day or two later) I was blown away by all the negative comments by people calling me an idiot, a lousy writer, my article worthless, etc.

    Part of the problem was that someone had added the word "Review" to my title on B2C, which was NOT a part of the original title. Still, the negativity seemed out of proportion to the offense, since my article was more comprehensive than others I have seen online that got positive comments.

    Is it something about Yahoo Business Insider? Does that site just tend to bring out the nastiness?

    Anyway, it was nice seeing that I was not the only one who experienced this. 

  • Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago BeckonsAttore

    There are tons of ways to handle negative comments. Really, it's no different than how you would handle them in real life, programmically speaking. Yes I am a coder so sorry if I have confused you dear reader. Another great networking site is quainted.com. I'm thinking it's pretty cool so far. I think that you guys should give it a go as well!

  • Mitz Pantic's picture
    Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago Mitz Pantic

    Well yes I did. I had no idea it would be so important to your "social media manager group". Hope they recover soon. :) 

  • Rachel Strella's picture
    Jul 23 Posted 3 years ago Rachel Strella

    You said in the beginning, "If the negative Facebook comment is on your own wall or page then you can easily delete the comment."  Was so early on it threw my social media manager group into craziness. 

  • Mitz Pantic's picture
    Jul 23 Posted 3 years ago Mitz Pantic

    "We don't want people to get the impression that it's OK to delete it if we disagree." ??

    This article was simply stating the options available and deleting a comment is one of them.

  • Rachel Strella's picture
    Jul 23 Posted 4 years ago Rachel Strella

    I think what caught my eye was the casual use of the words "delete negative feedback" as an opener. I think deleting should be the last alternative. I try to frame it in a way that everything is addressed first and deleted at last resort. We don't want people to get the impression that it's OK to delete it if we disagree. You did address this later in the story, as you indiciated. 

  • Rachel Strella's picture
    Jul 23 Posted 4 years ago Rachel Strella

    Abuse and personal attacks are another matter - same with foul language.  Some people are just trolls and their comment should be deleted.

  • Mitz Pantic's picture
    Jul 22 Posted 4 years ago Mitz Pantic

    I do not think that we should be open to abuse and personal attacks so I would definitely delete those comments. If the comment is genuine feedback or information then it can be dealt with.

    If you read on further I have given clear examples of how people could respond to feedback and complaints instead of deleting them. But the option to delete is still there and should be used if needed. It is a simple moderation job just like deleting spam. 

    It is not always best to address EVERY comment head on as there are crazy people out there that thrive on this kind of thing.


  • Rachel Strella's picture
    Jul 22 Posted 4 years ago Rachel Strella

    I never recommend deleting a negative comment unless it's something inappropriate. It sends the wrong message.  As social media professionals, we want to encourage feedback in order to aid customer service. I, too, wrote a blog for SMT on the subject of negative feedback. The story can be found here: http://socialmediatoday.com/rachel-strella/441158/social-media-consumer-how-handle-negative-feedback  

    The best thing is to address it head on. 


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