When to Respond to Negative Comments on Facebook

It’s no secret that Facebook can be a pretty dark place sometimes. So many people in our world are looking for an outlet for anger and find it behind a keyboard. This begs the question: when your company receives negative comments, messages, and other attention, when do you respond? At Elevate Marketing Co., there are a series of questions we ask before determining how and when to respond to negative engagement.

Social Learning

“Hide Comment” means to hide the comment from the general public. The commenter and their friends will still be able to see their comment.
Delete Comment” means to delete the comment. The commenter will not be notified of this but may notice their comment is no longer visible.
Ban User” means to prevent a user from interacting with your page. No likes, no comments, no shares – now or in the future. Nothing.

  1. Does the comment contain profanity, racial slurs, or other things that directly go against your brand image and values?
    These are automatic qualifiers for a “hide comment,” “delete comment,” or if the individual is persistent, then it could justify “ban user.”

  2. Could this person have good intentions?
    Though their comment may come off as negative, could they actually be looking for information? So often we’re quick to assume people don’t have good intentions. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt when we can. If they’re asking a question, answer it to the best of your ability. Maybe even throw a smiling emoji in with your response. Sometimes people really are just looking for information.

  3. Will it resolve the issue or add fuel to the fire?
    Some people like to put negativity online for the attention – for the reaction they can elicit out of others. While others truly are looking for resolution (see above). Often times it’s hard to determine which of these scenarios you’re dealing with based off of one comment, message, or another form of engagement. We recommend remaining neutral (unless your brand voice is snarky by nature, then have at it!) in your initial response to attempt to resolve the issue and convert a foe into a fan. If your response triggers more negativity and you feel comfortable determining that this person is more of an “internet troll” rather than a concerned citizen, feel free to use that hide or ban button at will.

    All things set aside, never respond out of emotion. Even if the comment is so far off base and nothing farther from the truth, leaving you boiling inside, take a deep breath, walk away and respond later. When we respond with emotion, we often end up fueling the fire and causing more harm than good.

  4. Should we “hide,” “delete,” or “ban user?

    • Hiding comments is a great option when you suspect that the commenter is just being a “troll,” or when their comment may not reflect the image your brand wants to portray on social media – but doesn’t necessarily violate community standards.

    • Deleting comments is best when the comments contain profanity or racial slurs. Something to consider with deleting comments is that while the user is not notified of the deletion of their comment, they may notice that their comment is no longer visible – and may repost their comment or make a bigger issue that their negativity is being censored. If they are not a “repeat offender,” deleting is usually a safe option.

    • When it comes to banning users, we have two policies that we recommend: the “three strikes rule,” meaning if you need to hide or delete three comments from an individual, that person gets banned; and the “zero-tolerance policy” which is exactly as it sounds.
      If you don’t have anything nice to say, you don’t’ get to say anything at all. Your decision between these policies (or one of your own) largely depends on your brand and values. If you manage the social media for a bar, tattoo parlor, or even local media outlet, your “banning policy” will likely be much different than that of someone who manages the social media of a church, nonprofit, or family-owned business. Consider the different elements of your brand and decide what will work best for your organization.

    The last question we ask ourselves pertains to reviews and recommendations. We recommend always, always responding to reviews – especially if they’re negative. Positive reviews are easy to reply to. But negative ones can pose a difficult situation.

  5. What does the public need to know about this situation?
    If you’ve received a negative review, you need to craft a response that both addresses the reviewer’s concerns, as well as the public’s perception of the incident. Offer your point of view – your side of the story. Acknowledge the feelings and viewpoint of the reviewer, but also protect your brand image. Make these responses personal, not a canned “We’re sorry you had a bad experience. Give us another try to do better,” but a true, heartfelt response. If/When the public checks out your reviews and recommendations, they’ll be able to see your responses and draw their own conclusions to the situation.

Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for both good and evil. Managing your brand’s reputation online can be a big task, but one worth investing in.

Need help crafting a solid social media management policy?

Social MediaVictoria Evans