Negativity sucks!  It sucks the joy from the moment. It sucks the life out of a business owner who doesn’t know how to handle it. And if it’s completely ignored, it sucks the confidence out of your loyal customers and potential customers.

So how do we deal with negative comments or reviews?  How can we stop those negative little buggers from screwing up our day? Or worse… our business reputation?


I can give you some tips that have worked well for our social media clients. Obviously, every situation is different, but with these tips, you should be able to apply the spirit to your particularly sucky negative comments.


First let’s get real: sometimes we deserve the negative feedback. And frankly: it’s better to listen to the feedback, process it, and decide if the complaint is something you can remedy. If it is, then you shouldn’t look at the negative review as a bad thing. You should thank that person for saving you $1,000 with a consultant.


Example: you run a beauty salon and you have hours posted online and on your door, and you don’t open or close consistently at the same time. If someone posts a negative review on Yelp or Facebook specifically about the fact that they’ve come by the shop thrice and you weren’t open when you said you’d be open then chances are YOU are the problem. Unless your are literally the only hair stylist within 250 miles, you probably can’t afford to be unprofessional in such an obvious way. There are a few simple fixes: 1) post more accurate  hours; 2) remove posted hours and go for an “underground” style of doing business; 3) get an alarm clock and a watch and stick with your existing hours


Okay, so let’s assume you don’t think there’s any value in this negative comment. This is a scenario, where a customer was just venting and you think it’s unfair, but here it is. Guess what?!  The Internet is free. And many trolls are happy to say things that their grandmothers would slap them for under the cloak of internet anonymity. Which… Sucks.


Here are a few principles to keep in mind when responding to said negative rants.


  1. Realize Who You’re Talking To.
  2. Be Polite
  3. Respond, Invite, Ignore


  1. Realize Who You’re Talking To

When responding to unwarranted negative comments and reviews. It’s important to realize who you are really talking to. Think of it like this… You are likely reaching out to this customer with 20% of your response. The other 80% is intended to EVERYONE else: your other customers, those folks who are researching their next purchase (often people are more likely to go straight to the negative reviews before reading positive reviews. It helps someone see where potential danger lies


If you reach your disgruntled customer great!  You just won another opportunity to develop that relationship into a profitable long term customer. But the real value lies in clearly communicating with the other existing and potential customers.  they now see how you handle negative situations, how responsive you are to concerns from customers (no matter how ridiculous they may sound), you’ve also just trained other customers how to deal with you online. This is priceless


  1. Be polite.

This should be pretty obvious, but I’ve seen several small businesses get really nasty with angry customers. This sucks. Don’t do it. The main thing an angry troll wants is to muddy your name. Why do you think they wrote an unfair negative comment?  If that’s what they want… Why would you jump in the mud with them?  Unless you’re Donald Trump (and you aren’t) then it’s probably best to take the high road and be nice. Remember who you’re really talking to. If you respond in a nice way and the troll comes back at you publicly, a discerning reader will see who really sucks. And it won’t be you.


  1. Respond, Invite, Ignore

This is a good rule for responding to negative reviews. Here’s how you use it.

When you see the negative comment. Take a moment to breathe. If you are like many small business owners, your product/service is like your baby. You may be personally hurt with the comment. And that’s okay… Except, it’s also a business and you need to act professionally. So after a nice deep breath. You need to RESPOND publicly. In your response you will obviously be polite, and depending on the situation you can either apologize, if there was an issue you or staff could have handled better, you also need to let the person know that you have heard them. (This is actually pretty important: look for another post about this in the future).

Next you can INVITE them to continue the conversation privately with your customer service staff, through direct message, email, phone, whatever… Anywhere but publicly.  This is your chance to win this particular customer back.  But it must be done privately… the last thing you need is an unhappy customer who is publicly unhappy, and you can’t seem to satisfy them… publicly!

If the person continues to try to initiate a public debate or fight, you are free to IGNORE them. If this continues more than 2 additional comments you should consider deleting or blocking the person from your page because they are no longer on your team… They just want to cause your business reputation harm.


Ok.  So remember that social media is a conversation!  Don’t let a negative comment ruin your day.  Learn from it, address is, by kind, remember who you’re talking to, invite them to chat privately, and if necessary… ignore it.  Don’t allow the negative nancy’s to hijack all of your time.  Instead, focus on those customers who are in love with your product/service!