negative comments

There’s no science in responding (or not responding) to negative comments. Each one should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Most social media community managers have dealt with this at one time or another: not-so-flattering comments about your organization or brand (I know I have).

This week, Justin has given us sample negative comments to respond to and explain how we would moderate them and why. In my responses, I will demonstrate the approaches I have used on-the-job at one time or another.

To a fast food chain:

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response/action: “Hello, I apologize that you found that location of our store in such a state. I can assure you that what you described is not in line with our standards of cleanliness. Could you please email me at so that I may collect more details about your visit to that location? Thank you!”

The rationale behind my response: Luckily when I worked in fast food, I didn’t have to worry about social media! All we had to deal with were telephone complaints! I want this customer (and others) to know we are listening and we do not shy away from criticism. However, I didn’t want to fully blame the store location for a dirty store without gathering more information from the manager of this location (the store may not have been dirty and the customer could just be making it all up). Bottom line, we need more information to fix a potential problem, which is why I wanted to get the customer off social media and get them talking to me one-on-one.

To a mainstream news network (let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides):

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

My response/action: “Thank you for your feedback. We will pass this along to our news managers. If you have any further questions/comments, feel free to email us at” (Assuming this comment appeared on the news network’s Facebook wall, I would hide the comment after I responded to it, as I do not want to leave a comment containing profanity to remain on the news organization’s wall.)

The rationale behind my response: Since we are assuming for this exercise’s sake that the reporting is balanced, this is obviously the opinion of someone who doesn’t see it that way and probably has a personal stake in the conflict. I don’t want this person to think I am just hiding his or her comment, so that is why I would want to respond first and then tell them to send further comment to our general email address. If this person chose to email us, our management team could deal with this person and talk to them one-on-one about their concerns.