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Dealing with Negativity Online?

(What You Need to Know!)

Is your business dealing with negative comments online or are you staying away from social media for fear of negativity? Create a Social Media Comments Response Plan using these steps and download the free template to get you started.

Social media has become an integral part of marketing for most companies. However, new or small businesses may avoid social media due to concerns over how to handle negativity online. Unfortunately, it?s unavoidable. It will likely happen to all at some point. Eventually, a disgruntled customer or internet troll is going to find your social media page and attack. The goal is not to avoid these interactions. The idea is to make sure there is a plan in place to deal with it when the need arises.

Just like you need a plan in place to respond to positive comments and interactions on your social media platforms, there also needs to be a response plan for how to deal with the not-so-nice engagements.

Developing Rules

It?s important to understand up front what your company will and will not tolerate in regards to social media. This helps to set up expectations for your tribe and online community. Once the rules are written up, post them somewhere public such as in the description box of your social media pages or on the About Me section of your website.

This gives you an automatic justification for dealing with negativity and trolls on your pages. If anyone questions your actions, you can direct them back to your disclaimer paragraph for clarification. In best-case scenarios, members of your online community will do this task for you!

Here are some examples of what other organizations are using in terms of guidelines for their websites:

Also, check out this blog post from last year on Black Milk Clothing regarding a social media crisis they faced on “May the Fourth” (Star Wars Day).

Here?s a sample ?House Rules? that is simple, short & sweet:

Thanks for your interest in our page!

We really appreciate you leaving comments, photos, videos, and links here. However, we will review all comments and remove any that are inappropriate, spam or offensive. Please understand comments posted to this Page do not represent the opinions of ?Your Company Name?.

Thanks again for sharing and contributing!

Comment Response Plan

After you have established what your rules are, it?s time to develop a comment response plan. Here are the different areas to focus on when developing a plan for your business:

  • Positive Comments
  • Negative Comments
  • Neutral Comments
  • Spam Posts
  • Crisis Moments

Positive Comments

If you receive positive comments on your social platforms, wonderful! Make certain you remember to engage these individuals. Social media is, after all, meant to be social. Begin developing a relationship with the person by responding back and expressing your gratitude. Maybe take the opportunity to ask for a quick testimonial or review online, if you feel it?s appropriate.

Neutral Comments

Just because a comment isn?t overwhelmingly supportive, doesn?t mean it lacks merit or should be ignored. Take the moment as the opportunity it is ? to develop a relationship with someone who has taken the time to interact with you. People love to be noticed!

Negative Comments

With a negative comment, you have a few options. The first would be simply to ignore it. Internet trolls do exist and often ?feeding? them is more trouble than it?s worth. Consider taking a screenshot and documenting the moment in case this troll comes back for more. Responding to this type of interaction just fuels the fire, so to speak, and trolls move on if they can?t manage to start trouble right away.

Sometimes the negative comment has to do with your company, your product or service, or you. These complaints happen and it?s best to respond appropriately. The poster is giving you an opportunity! Opportunity? Yes! They are opening the door for you to respond and fix the issue or problem. A lot of times people will walk away from a company without saying a word ? taking away the business? opportunity to turn it around! If a resolution can be reached, you will have earned the individual?s respect and, possibly, repeat business. Don?t look at these comments as troublesome. Instead consider the negative comments as a possibility to build a relationship with someone who might have walked away.


If it is offensive, obscene or downright inappropriate ? remove the comment immediately. Then take actions to block the individual, if possible. If another company has targeted you for their spam, don?t hesitate to remove, block and report. You have rights when it comes to your page. Take a screenshot, just in case. Also, include your position on spam to your page in your social media policy.

Crisis Moments

While not common, occasionally a post might be a bit more severe than simple spam or negativity. If a post has criminal or legal implications, it?s time to do more than just ignore or remove it. Take screenshots of the comments and then contact the local authorities. If you have a lawyer, speak with them about what you might need to do to protect yourself. You may never need to respond to an online crisis, but having a plan in place will speed things along if this becomes an issue.


Having a social media plan in place does no good, if there isn?t also a plan in place to monitor comments and online activity. There are a variety of ways to handle this task. You could just set up notifications on your social media sites so your phone or email gets notified whenever an activity occurs and then manage or respond, as appropriate.

There are also social media tools, such as Hootsuite and Commun.it, which can be used to streamline your monitoring tasks. Most of these tools offer a free version. This could help keep you from being tempted to respond every time a notification pops up. Schedule times during your workday or week to focus on these tasks to increase your productivity. Response time varies based on the social media platform you are using. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest you have more time to respond, typically within 24 hours is good. Twitter on the other hand is fast paced and people expect a quick response, typically in less than 1 hour.

Another option is to hire someone else to help monitor your accounts for you. Outsourcing the work takes the burden off you and frees you up to complete more projects and win more work.

Now that you know what goes into a social media response plan, it?s time to build your own. Here are some examples of plans other companies are using to help kick start your own:

You now have the tools necessary to create a social media comment response plan for your business.

Please grab your FREE Social Media Comments Response Template here.

If you decide you need help getting started Socially Powered would be happy to help.

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Resources: http://linkis.com/www.jeffbullas.com/2/jFylU

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