How to turn a social media negative into a positive

This is often a hot panel topic for our clients so we’ve decided to write up a quick best practice how-to guide of what to do when you get negative feedback on your social media channels.

No-one likes to get a bad review. But if its on Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor etc it can feel even worse as it is so public.

Although not fun at the time, this can be a good thing as: 

  •     You now know about issues you perhaps weren’t aware of
  •     You can stop a disgruntled customer complaining about you, by fixing the problem
  •     You are able to publicly show you care about your clients


So first of all… take a deep breath and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If there was a problem you weren’t aware of (true or false), at least the comment brings it to your attention. Plus you get the added benefit of being able to rectify any problems and/or set the record straight in public, in front of your community of fans. People on social media will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you are honest, upfront and take responsibility. 

What to do when it happens:

  1. Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Do think about possible reactions to your post, and try take emotion out of it. When we get a negative comment on a social media platform, our natural reaction is to be defensive. Don’t be!
  2. Being open to criticism is a sign of a good leader. If someone disagrees with you, often they have a really good point. Good leaders don’t get defensive, they are open to many opinions and they don’t get personal.
  3. Don’t lie or pass the buck. You will get caught. If you are in the wrong, then own up quickly and apologise. People will forgive mistakes, but not being lied to.
  4.  Time is critical. Don’t ignore comments or ‘wait to run past legal.’ Even if you don’t have all the facts, it’s better to say something to show you have heard them rather than waiting. For example “So sorry you had that experience. I have the team looking into it now and will get back to you asap.” And of course you are still sorry they had a bad experience, even if it’s not your fault.
  5. After any negative feedback has been resolved offline, close the loop online: Something that many businesses forget to do is once you’ve got any issues sorted you go back to that negative comment online and write something like; “Thank you for letting us know about your experience and helping us get to the bottom of it. I trust you are satisfied with the outcome. Thank you, Melanie (owner)”. This last step is important as it shows all your prospective customers that you handle complaints with grace and good humour.


We think every bad customer review is gold to a business because it gives you a chance to address a problem, handle it really well and make yourself a stronger business…. And if you’re worried about what people are going to say about you online then you’ve probably got bigger problems to sort out in your company!

A few more tips:

  1. Do not delete negative comments. It’s bad practice and showing how you handle bad comments in a good way reflects well on you.
  2. If you get a lot of complaints about one thing over a short period of time, then you can look at it as a major issue. In this case, do post a statement from management addressed to all your followers.
  3. If a fan jumps in and defends you that is a great sign! Often you don’t need to get involved until they need to clarify information or they mention something inaccurate about your company or service.
  4. Sign off with your first name, this reminds everyone they are talking to a real person.


Hope that helps, happy chatting!