How to Handle Negative Online Feedback

Posted September 14, 2016 by Swim Creative Staff

Who knew you’d have to battle trolls as an adult? Good or bad, feedback on online content (blogging and social media) should not be ignored, and is something we deal with every day. Don’t look at it as a burden. View it as an incredible opportunity to learn and engage with your audience.

Here’s how we suggest handling online feedback:

Step 1: Build a process 

After you establish your content marketing strategy (and define the social channels that are right for your brand), the next step would be to develop and document the process associated with handling feedback online. Whether you’re doing it all by yourself or working collaboratively with a team, a written process will save you from scrambling down the road.

Pro tips:

  • For organizations with a social media team, assign roles in the process doc so everyone is aware of their responsibilities in regards to the feedback workflow.
  • Include tips for responding to feedback, including tone of voice, where to direct them next (email or phone?) and at what point do you need to bring in the manager.


Step 2: Develop your comment policy, and make it publicly available

This is the public-facing document that tells users you have the right to delete their inappropriate comments and/or block them from your page if they don’t follow the rules.

We’re a fan of the comment policy for TopRank Marketing.

Think of it like social media or blog insurance. You have something to show for yourself when Negative Nancy gets a little out of control.


Step 3: Hug your haters

Did you know that 80% of companies say they deliver outstanding customer service, but only 8% of their customers agree?

Whether or not you like it, we need to be where our customers are—and that’s online.

This concept is derived from Jay Baer’s book: Hug Your Haters and it’s worth every penny!


Step 4: Draw the line

Not all negative comments should be deleted. Sometimes you can get the best feedback through negative comments. Determine when the line is crossed.

We live by the Rule of 2.

The user will always get a response after comment #1.

If they persist on replying to our reply, we’ll ask them to take the conversation offline, aka send us an email directly.

If they continue to babble on, we’ll hide their comments and move on with our day.

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Step 5: Don’t take it personally

Just because someone has decided to direct their frustration at your brand publicly, doesn’t mean you should call your PR manager to put out the fire.

If you follow the steps above and show that you publicly care about everyone’s feedback—positive or negative—the bystander users who read your comments will notice and appreciate your efforts.

As Bob Marley once said, “Every little thing gonna be alright.” 


Are you in need of some guidance for creating your internal process or policy around handling negative feedback?

Send us a note at We’d love to help you out!

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