How to Handle Negative Comments in Social Media

One of the most common questions I receive is about how a brand should combat negative comments in social media.

It’s true. There are many horror stories that you are most likely familiar with of negative word of mouth spreading like wildfire through social media. Employees and executives behaving badly, questionable product quality, poor treatment of customers – these are the stories that many people love to spread, and many brands in turn are wary of opening up their social media channels because of this. The reality is however that these are by no means the only comments about brands customers are making online.

In fact, customer experience programs that stress active advocacy may serve as the perfect solution for brands concerned about negative sentiment.

There is an old adage in sports that “the best defense is a good offense.” In other words, by being more proactive in any activity, you can reduce the harm caused by any oncoming risks.

In the world of social media and active advocacy this strategy has two prongs. First, by encouraging happy customers to become advocates of your brand, you can effectively build a safety net of positive sentiment throughout the online world that can cushion the negative effect from any negative comments that may pop up once in a while. What better counter to a negative portrayal of your brand online than to simply reference back to hundreds if not thousands of pre-existing positive stories of great brand experiences from your own happy customers.

A customer experience management program can also serve as an offensive weapon against negative commentary through the alert mechanisms that most have. These customer alerts allow brands to intercept unhappy customers at their moment of truth, allowing an opportunity for management or brand representatives to reach out personally to improve their brand experience before any negative sentiment is released to the world.

Customer alerts while simple in nature can be quite profound in their impact. By connecting brands directly to unhappy customers, brands are able to open up a true dialogue with them, to glean often meaningful insights, while also having an opportunity to create more advocates as well. After all, what better experience to share on social media than a brand so dedicated to customer service that they reached out to you in a timely and personal manner to correct an issue that you had reported.

Two facets of a simple strategy to reduce the risk of negative online sentiment the old-fashioned way: leverage positive word-of-mouth and never take a single customer for granted.

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