As our readers know, here at Chronicle Republic we love social media. The world of social has created business and interpersonal opportunities never considered before – it is also what makes our jobs possible! What we don’t love? Negative online comments.

We are also the first to put our hands up and admit there are some parts of social media that we don’t necessarily love. In a world where so many of us communicate through screens, unfortunately, negativity is more prominent than ever. You don’t have to look far – whether it’s a rude message in your inbox, an unfairly biased Google Review or a nasty comment on Facebook – negativity and ‘hate’ are commonplace online due to anonymity. Negative comments online are unfortunately a part of digital life.

As such, we’re here to guide you through some ways to respond in these instances, and how best to manage negativity.

Firstly, it is imperative to make sure that someone is monitoring your sites for engagement, both good and bad, and ready to act on leveraging positive comments or addressing negatives online reviews. Ensure you have email notifications for Google Reviews and your social channels set up properly so that nothing gets missed. The best response is always to respond in some way – unanswered feedback gives the impression that you don’t care.

Responding to feedback 

When replying to comments, here are some key things to keep in mind.

  • Direct negative online comments offline where you can. It is best to refer the customer to a member of your team to speak with directly via email or private message. Offer to call them where possible. Not only does this prevent the issue from becoming publicised, direct messages are also more personal and convey care for your customer. Here, you can also offer to discuss the issue further to reach a resolution
  • Refrain from becoming defensive. Remember, in this situation it is important to prioritise how your customer may be feeling, and engaging in a defensive argument will appear highly unprofessional
  • Apologise without patronising. Avoid responses such as “I’m sorry you feel that way”, which may work against your favour, as they can appear patronising or disingenuous
  • State the facts. This will help ground the situation in facts and truth, rather than emotions. However, remember to be warm and show empathy
  • Reinforce company values. By contrasting your customer’s experience with the company policy or what customers normally experience with your company, you are addressing their concerns while also reinforcing your company values, such as 6-star service, integrity etc.

Hide, delete and block 

If you do not want to give reply to the comment, there are a few other options. Depending on the nature of the comment, you can choose to either hide it or delete it, and you can also block the offending user if you wish.

If you hide a comment, it will no longer be visible on your page except to the user who posted it, and their friends. You may choose to hide comments that seem arbitrary, but are not necessarily harmful or offensive. You can also unhide the comment at any time.

However, if a comment is harmful or offensive, the best option is to delete it. In our opinion, there is simply no need to tolerate derogatory or hateful comments. Deleting the comment will remove it from your page permanently. You are also given the option to ban offending users from your page, which means they’ll no longer be able to publish to your page, like or comment your page’s posts, message your page or like your page.

If a person has a genuine complaint, we don’t suggest deleting it, even if you don’t like it. This could cause the situation to escalate unnecessarily by sending the complainer on a digital rampage. Instead, respond publicly and direct the complainer offline. This shows your customers you care enough to act.

Managing your reviews

Online reviews are often a fantastic way for customers to gauge whether your business or brand will be the right fit for what they need and want. While strong positive feedback will give you an excellent advantage over your competitors, in the same way, negative online comments can also be very damaging, and will speak strongly about your business.

When it comes to reviews, it is better to prepare and prevent, rather than repair and repent. That is, it is easier to generate positive reviews that will serve to overpower the negative, rather than trying to mediate the negative review after the fact. Be proactive about generating positive client reviews and encourage happy customers to leave feedback.

Once live, negative online reviews can be difficult to remove from your Facebook or Google page. Some people may even leave fake reviews that include false statements or allegations in an attempt to sabotage your brand. Typical characteristics of fake reviews include:

  • The reviewer’s name is not in your existing customer database
  • The reviewer has left similar reviews for other businesses
  • The reviewer provides no further comment or elaboration on their experience
  • The review contains false information

If you believe that someone has left a fake review, you can report the post to Facebook (‘report post’ or Google (‘flag as inappropriate’) for the team to review and (hopefully) remove. (Google is more likely to act on a review that has been flagged more than once, so if possible, you should request a number of colleagues to flag the post too!)

However, it is unlikely that legitimate feedback from unhappy customers will be removed. While reviews themselves cannot be deleted, you can disable Facebook reviews from your business page altogether. This will hide all existing reviews and prevent any new ones from being written. Unless you plan to actively acquire positive feedback for your business, consider disabling Facebook Reviews as a preventative strategy.

Need help with your digital marketing?

Chronicle Republic Communications is a boutique Sydney marketing consultancy for real estate, property and interiors professionals. We specialise in social media, content marketing, email marketing, blogging, search engine optimisation, social media advertising and much more!

If you are looking for social media for real estate, property or interior design our digital marketing experts can help you bring your brand’s story to life.