It’s bound to happen. No matter what you do or how great your company is, you’re bound to get a negative comment or post about your brand at some point, whether on your blog, your Facebook page, or your Yelp account. The easiest solution is to just delete it, right?

Wrong. Deleting a negative post is actually one of the worst ways to respond. I’ll tell you why – and how to respond.

You’ll exacerbate your problem

It may seem like deleting a negative comment or post will erase the problem, but it could actually make it much worse. Think about it:

  • If someone is angry enough to write a comment, tweet or Facebook post about it, think how upset they’ll be once they discover you deleted that comment to censor their opinion.
  • That original poster could then cause a whole lot more damage for your brand than just one negative post. Think:
  • Writing negative things about you online without tagging you, so you may not even see it.
  • Posting bad (or even untruthful) things about you in places you can’t delete, like their own profile or a site like Yelp where you can't delete comments.
  • You’ve certainly lost their business, and they will do their best to influence your current customers, and prevent new customers from buying.

The better solution

Instead, use the negative post as an opportunity to do two things:

  • Try to win the unhappy person back over
  • AND demonstrate your phenomenal customer service to the rest of the social world

For the first goal, reply to the person directly. Apologize for whatever has upset them, don’t make excuses and offer to make it better however you can. It may involve a product discount or coupon, or it may just be offering to have a customer service rep call to walk them through a difficult process or answer their questions personally.

To accomplish the second objective, I almost always recommend answering the negative post publicly. Just like it seems easier to delete and ignore the negative post, it also may seem better to reach out offline, rather than responding where everyone else can view. However, responding publicly actually has multiple benefits:

  • The upset customer feels heard and validated.
  • Others see that you take feedback seriously, whether positive or negative, and are willing to address either.
  • You also have a chance to let your customer service shine with whatever solution you offer your customer – and it may even work out that the angry customer changes their mind for everyone to see and hear. That is one of the best testimonials you can get online.

What do you all think? Anyone have stories to share on negative posts?

And if you're looking for some help deciding what to post in the first place, check out this list of 42 social media post ideas.

© 2014 Alicia Olsen