We’ve all been there. You spend a long time curating content, making the pictures stand out and almost tearing your eyes out over what copy to write… you’re brave enough to finally hit publish and then someone writes something awful on your post. Maybe the picture is slightly blurry, maybe you made a typo, maybe someone just doesn’t like your business, but either way, they’re unhappy and they’ve written something rubbish on your post for all your followers to see. So what do you do?

Negative feedback on social media sometimes feels like a personal attack, our businesses are our babies, we dedicate our lives to them so any sort of rejection or negativity is a touch heartbreaking. With this in mind, the most important piece of advice I can give you is… CALM DOWN. Take a deep breath, go for a walk if it helps, the world is not ending, it’s just a negative comment and your response can wait. Once the initial fire of fury has gone, you are chilled, composed and ready, ask yourself – “Do I even need to respond to this?”

If the answer is yes, here are some options for how to respond to those negative comments on your businesses social media page.

Take the conversation off of social media

If the negative comment is from a friend, customer or somebody you know. Phone them. Often, keyboard warriors backdown or have a chance to explain themselves if you have a real conversation. How often is a message misunderstood when it is written? I’d say often.

Give a generic response

In some industries like hospitality, you may get the odd niggle or disappointment from a customer. For people who are genuinely upset, respond with something simple acknowledging their comment, apologising that they are unhappy and suggesting you will pass on their feedback. DO NOT get in an argument about the particulars of their complaint publicly, it is damaging to your brand even if you are right.

Hide their comment

There is an option in Facebook pages to hide someone’s comments from the public but allow them to still see it. This means they won’t know you’ve hidden it. I would only recommend doing this for genuine trolls and extra nasty messages. Twitter doesn’t have this option, and Instagram only gives you the option to delete their comment. BE VARY CAREFUL, using this method especially on Twitter if multiple people are getting involved because all involved can still see the posts. You can’t hide from a widely held opinion (imagine hiding every Brexit comment for example) but you can acknowledge others even if you disagree. Also refrain from outright blocking someone if you can, they’ll think you blocking them is childish “well they blocked me so i’m obviously right” style.

Don’t respond and let your followers drown them out with positivity

Everyone has a bad day, trolls included, and perhaps you just got used as a method to dispel anger. In some cases, your followers will diffuse a negative situation for you, this is a case I see on business social media a lot. It is tempting for me to write back “If you don’t like it then don’t use it”, but I wouldn’t want my loyal followers to see my snobby attitude. So many other followers say they love your photo, that it drowns out the odd piece of negativity. Respond to all the positive comments with praise and thanks, then ignore the bad ones. Remember you can’t please everybody.

It is awful when somebody has something bad to say, whether it is about you, your business, or one of the businesses whose social media channels you run. If you manage social media channels for other people which receive poor feedback, mention it to the business owner and don’t take it as a personal failure on your part. As an innocent bystander, if you see trolling, negativity, or bullying on others posts, you don’t need to get involved but write something positive instead. Imagine standing in the boots of the social media manager or business owner, your one positive comment will go a long way to brightening their dark day. To business owners big and small, keep going, don’t let the trolls get you down and good luck!

If you just can’t handle all this yourself and it’s too much, get in touch. I manage many social media accounts for business and have experience dealing with happy customers as well as the unhappy ones. Your day can get a little bit easier if you have one less thing to worry about!

A big thank you to all the amazing Freelance Heroes who helped me put all this advice together!