Social Media Management – Responding to Negatives

Dealing with Negatives – Social Media Management

Businesses and public figures can both be affected by social media, for good or ill.

The first thing to recognise is that no matter how small you are, you can’t simply ignore social media because it certainly won’t ignore you.

Anyone serious about dealing with the public simply must have a social media presence and monitor it well.


It’s not possible to be everywhere at all times, waiting for someone to mention you or your business, but Google Alerts makes online
monitoring easy.

Simply set your Google account to alerts you by email whenever someone posts your business name online. Set up alerts for possible variations on
your name too.

Be vigilant on your own pages and spaces to be sure you know what is going on and what is being said.

When something negative happens, and it will, you have several options:

Be Like Switzerland, be Neutral

You can decide to ignore antagonistic posts and comments, and often this is the way to go. If someone posts a really horrible and rude comments about you or your business, as your Dad told you when you were a kid, it really does say more about them than about you. I know that sounds trite, but if you don’t react chances are others will react on your behalf, telling the poster to pull their head in.

These people are called “online morality warriors” or “angel trolls”. They haunt the internet looking for nasty comments so that they can tell the comment writer off and display
their own higher moral standards. Use them to your advantage.

Be a Spy

Have at least a couple of spare social media accounts you can use that are not related to yourself or your business. Then you can use these to anonymously tell off the offending poster if no online morality warriors have come to your aid yet.

If telling the commenter off doesn’t work or isn’t a good option, use your spy account to bury the post. Simply add random posts and replies on unrelated topics until the offending
post has dropped off the page.

Smother them in Honey

This option involves taking the post very seriously and killing them with kindness. Best suited to the more passive-aggressive personality, it works remarkably well and enables you to turn a nasty comment into a stellar endorsement.

Be understanding; be caring; even if you really want to scream.

I recently saw this done to great effect on Trip Advisor when a client’s customer had posted along the lines that “the place was filthy and the staff were rude”. Suspecting it was not a
genuine complaint (the place is always clean and the staff always delightful) the owner publicly replied asking politely for more details – date, what the staff member looked like, what they said, nature of dirt etc.

Further, my client said he would look into it as they “take these matters very seriously” and offered financial compensation if the person complaining would contact them by email.

Of course the complainer didn’t email any details, so after a couple of days the owner asked again on Trip Advisor, and again, and then began getting supportive comments saying “ignore the troll” and such, along with positive endorsements from people who had enjoyed the business.

Address Genuine Issues

Some issues are real. Don’t forget that. No business is perfect.

So if a real issue is brought to your attention be grateful, thank the poster and explain what you will do about it.

Sometimes it is simply a misunderstanding, such as the time a client was attacked on Facebook because they had “closed down their shop and done a runner” keeping the poster’s deposit for goods. They hadn’t, they had simply moved into larger premises down the street.
In this case the business owner apologised, saying that they emailed all customers and the poster should have received said email.

Turned out the poster had thought it was spam and ignored it, but his apology was glowing and when he also received a small freebie from the business he became one of their best advocates.