While brand bashing is nothing new, the internet and social media platforms have made comments from these scumbags more persistent and susceptible.

With social networks like Yelp and Twitter making it easy for people to build fake profiles, the anonymity one can achieve on the internet makes some people more willing to lose all decency, respect, and courtesy.

So what’s the best way to deal with the negative reviews that pop up every now and then? Let’s find out.

Let’s discuss these strategies in detail.

1. Respond to comments as soon as possible.

Don’t delay. Don’t let negative reviews linger. The more time you keep them unresponsive, the more others need to see someone complaining and you don’t respond.

Instead, address negative reviews as soon as possible to prevent them from popping up with something potentially more damaging. For example, a negative post on an Instagram post or a tweet on a company’s Twitter account is much smaller than an obnoxious blog post, which can have a more lasting impact.

A quick response will show the naysayers that you are listening and that you care. It will also remind others of your dedication to community members.

2. Apologize.

Say sorry if someone complains about your product, service, or anything else. It doesn’t matter whether their complaint is reasonable or not; you’re better off taking a “customer is always right” approach.

There is no point in going into an open cage game just because of one complaint, others will respect you and apologize in advance. If the person you’re dealing with complains about something stupid, other people will realize it too and won’t think about anything.

3. Discuss the problem privately.

React publicly first, then privately. For example, if someone is particularly difficult, move your communication with them to a private channel.

Start by responding publicly, either by tweeting or commenting on their Facebook wall post, then send them a private message so you can chat with them via email or phone explaining what you want to offer them in one way A more personalized experience.

That way, you can give them the attention they’re competing for without exposing your interactions to everyone.

4. Appreciate their feedback.

Treat complaints as constructive criticism or feedback. Sometimes that’s all they have. People want to be heard, they want to know they’ve been heard.

So, after you apologize for their unsatisfactory experience, let them know that their feedback is appreciated and that you will seriously consider their suggestions for improvement.

Then actually follow up. Send their feedback to your product team or the appropriate people within your organization. By responding to negative feedback, you can turn angry customers into happy, loyal ambassadors.

5. Ask them how you can help, and offer to help.

If you’re dealing with a comment that’s blatantly offensive and lacks context, tell the commenter you’re sorry they’re sorry for their actions, and ask them how they can help improve the situation.

Then, one of two things will happen: they’ll reply with something you can act on, or they’ll be so taken aback that you reply and have nothing to say. Either way, you’ll respond politely.

6. Don’t delete all negative reviews.

Negative reviews can sometimes be removed. For example, if they use offensive language or make a comment, there is no danger in deleting the comment.

But if they have a real complaint, it would be a huge mistake to delete their comment. Your review may irritate those with legitimate complaints, keep in mind that current and potential customers are also paying attention. If you delete their comments, it looks like you are hiding something that is not good for your brand.

7. Choose your battle.

Some people make noise just to make noise. They are attention seekers, they just want to stir up some controversy.

It is important to decide what deserves a response. Does this person have followers? Will other people respond to what they say? It’s important to keep these people on the lookout and monitor what they’re saying, but engaging with them may not always be worth it.

Here’s what each type means and tips on how to deal with them.

1. Customer complaints

These are the most common negative comments you’ll receive, and the most important of the four. As the name suggests, these reviews come from customers who are having trouble using your product or service.

How to respond to a complaint:

You should respond promptly to all customer complaints. Apologise for any inconvenience, verify the problem and provide the customer with a solution.

2. Trolling

Trolls are the bane of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. These people (or bots?) just want to get noticed and cause you trouble. Their outrageous comments are often untrue and intended to anger others. This, in turn, will distract you from your social media posts and turn your attention to themselves and their ridiculous comments. Unfortunately they are not real customers who complain and are very annoying.

How to deal with trolls:

Attracting them may be your first reaction, but it’s exactly what they want. So, as soon as you spot trolling, ignore the comments entirely.

3. Malicious comments

Comments that contain profanity and offensive language fall into this category. This goes one step further than trolling – malicious comments are mean and insulting and may attack your brand or the character of your employees or leaders. The purpose of malicious comments is to cause emotional distress to your team.

How to handle malicious comments:

Establish clear rules of engagement and enforce them. For example, you can make a “no profanity” rule and enforce that rule by removing any comments that contain them. Repeat offenders can be reported and blocked.

4. Threatening comments

These comments can harass or threaten your social media team, leadership or employees. They might even target customers and other followers of your social media accounts. Threatening comments are often violent—physical, emotional, or otherwise.

How to handle threatening comments:

You may be tempted to respond to threatening comments by sharing your boundaries as a brand or even informing reviewers of the social media platform’s terms of use, but it’s best not to engage. Hide comments if you can, then intercept and report them to social media platforms, local authorities and your legal team.

Quick reflexes win the battle, but kindness wins the war

It might feel good to come back mean and put a troll or negative person in their place. But most of the time, the response is not worth it.

You can stay on top of negative comments on your social media pages by using the tips we provide in this article. You can also create a social media crisis management plan to help you turn pesky comments into positive PR.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2011 and has been updated for completeness.

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