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How to Deal with Negative Comments on Social Media

Social media

If you produce any content on the internet, you are always going to get comments. Positive ones, negative ones and sometimes ones so negative and horrible they make you question humanity. 

Advertisers, especially, should always listen to these comments and reply. Here is a guide to why you should listen and how to handle negative comments from Helen on our Paid Social team.  

Why Should You Take Notice of Social Media Comments?

1. Safeguard your Product

This is an easy one: you need to protect the image of your product from negative commenters. Even if you have the best product in the world with game-changing advertising, this could be let down by a couple negative comments on a social media platform. 9/10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase (Trust Pilot 2020). Your ad could be the first time your product has been introduced to your audience and if the comments are full of negativity, this will significantly lower the chances that people click through to your web page and make any purchases. 

2. Take learning directly from your target audience

It is easy to forget, but comments are your truest insight into the thoughts and opinions of your target audience. What is the first thing you learn when you start marketing (after how Facebook actually do seriously care about your privacy….)? It’s know your audience! So certainly do not ignore what you are being told by them. Here are just a few examples of how I’ve taken note of community insights to improve performance of ad creatives… 

  • Informing creatives

Commenters love to remark upon the content of your ads. Even if the design took you hours to conceive and create, if the people do not like it, you had better change it. For example, I once used a Spanish flag in an advert for a product advertised in Spain and instantly got backlash from the Catalan audience – rightly so. As an ignorant Brit, if I hadn’t listened to the comments, I could have offended a lot of people and not understood why this ad was performing so badly. However, in the not-so-famous words of Oasis, I ‘listened up’! By removing the offensive crest from the Spanish flag, both Spanish and Catan audiences were happy and performance got back on track. 

(I know this picture is hilariously cheesy, but it’s also… kind of great?)

  • Alleviating unfounded concerns

Some of your audience may wrongly think something is negative about your product and comment about it on your posts. If this is left to its own devices then other viewers could start to believe these unfounded statements. 

For example, on an advert for solar panels, lots of people were concerned about pigeons nesting under their panels and ruining their roofs (and sleep). Again the ignorant Brit in charge had not thought about the pigeons… However, the solar panel provider actually provided anti-pigeon-nesting netting (what a mouthful)  with all its solar panels, we just hadn’t thought that this would be a desirable feature worth shouting about. By replying to the comments informing the customers that the solar panels had this feature, we could alleviate the pigeon concern and also show off the innovative design on the ad without diluting the copy of the ad. 

  • Inform your copy

The best copywriters highlight a pain point for people without their product and demonstrate how this pain point can be alleviated through purchasing their product. Negative comments can certainly provide an insight into what these pain points could be!

On some hearing aid ads I was working on, lots of people were talking about how they didn’t like hearing aids because they thought they were very obvious and ugly. By listening to these comments we included the word ‘invisible’ in the ad copy to highlight how subtle these hearing aids were. Lo and below – ‘invisible’ copy was the best across all our ads. 

How to Respond to Negative Comments 

So now you’ve learnt to listen, let’s look into what you should do if you are receiving negative comments on your organic posts or ads.

Comments to ‘hide’

There are some comments to which there is nothing to reply. Sadly the internet is full of trolls who will just swear or say horrible, unrelated things on your content. Do not take it personally. Facebook has a ‘hide’ feature that means no one else can see these comments apart from the commenter and friends of the commenter. This means that they are not notified that their comment has been deleted but also that other people are not put off your product by seeing unnecessary profanities.

Facebook pages also allow you to automatically hide curse words. Google ‘swear words for filter’ (other search engines are available…) and download a comprehensive CSV file of curse words so that they are automatically hidden – easy!

Comments to reply to

A good community manager will reply to the majority of comments received across every platform that they appear on – even the positive ones! This shows that you as a brand are listening and will respond fast to any issue your customers may have. This earns your brand trust and also makes you seem more authentic.

If you need to prioritise which comments to reply to, always focus on comments that ask for a direct action from you or comments that express unfounded concerns. This shows that you not only listen but also take action in relation to your customers’ concerns.

It’s not only the customers that stand to benefit from you replying to your comments. If you reply to people asking for more information with a reply and a link in your reply to your web page, then you have another way to drive customers to your site. These customers may be more likely to take more meaningful actions once on site because they have already engaged with you as a brand and have grown to trust the brand before they have even reached your site.

Comments to categorise

It can be very useful to distinguish between one-off and consistent comments. I would recommend – as daunting as this sounds – categorising all the comments you receive so that you can understand how many people are commenting on specific topics. It is always good to have some data to back mainly anecdotal evidence. You can either do this manually or enlist community management platforms to help you out with this. 

Upscaling your community management

If you find that you are getting too many comments to keep track of, then it might be worth spending a little on a community management platform which will pull all your comments into one place. It is worth doing your research into these platforms as there are many and the price ranges differ wildly. Make sure you know which social platforms you want to track and exactly what functionalities you need (and don’t need). Most should offer you a free trial period which I would recommend trying a few and working out which works best for you.

Happy replying!

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