How to Handle Negative Social Media

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If your business hasn’t encountered a negative experience on social media, it is likely you will soon. With few barriers to entry, an upset customer or client can take to the internet in seconds flat and gain a following that can hurt your business’ reputation.

The key to containing a negative social media attack is by responding quickly and fairly. These tips can help you mediate your social media accounts without stoking the fire.

Make your Online Posting Policy Visible

This technique is particularly important on Facebook and Youtube where followers come to your page and see the negative comments, but it can be applied to many other social media platforms as well.

Keep an outline of what is and is not acceptable to post clearly visible to those interacting with your brand so that you have a standard to delete, hide and block posts. Oftentimes, brand evangelists will help contain the fire and report posts that may not adhere to your standards.

Common Unacceptable Content:
  • Posts that are threatening, abusive, obscene, indecent or objectionable
  • Posts that are deceptive, false or misleading
  • Content that violates the intellectual property rights of others
  • Content that is illegal
  • References to a third party website or self-promoting spam
  • Posts that are inappropriate, offensive or hateful

Be selective about liking posts


In the event of a crisis, your social media sites exist solely to facilitate the natural need for conversation. Be careful about joining in. Try to limit liking and other interaction to a maximum of 10-15 percent of posts. This will help you prioritize posts that are truly supportive of the company and don’t mention the crisis directly.

Be selective about deleting, hiding and blocking

Although we suggest limiting the exposure of posts that violate your posting policy, avoid eliminating interactions merely because they create negative press for your brand. Banning a user on social media is an especially heavy-handed approach that is only necessary when someone is continually posting lewd or deceitful content after a fair warning. But if you keep the civil negative comments on the page, people will get the idea that you are not stifling the conversation but facilitating a respectful tone.

Let the public blow off steam

Ultimately if your business has made a mistake, it is in your best interests to let the repercussions rise and fall in a natural manner. Advise senior management that it will be difficult to watch the negative comments roll in, but that it is a necessary step in rebuilding trust in your brand. If you cannot facilitate a reasonable conversation, the conversation will go to another platform where you have less control of the message.

Whatever you do, don’t engage a mad negative poster online because it only creates more public opportunities for mistakes. As part of your posting policy, invite everyone to contact you offline where you would be glad to continue any conversation. Then address their personal situation accordingly.

Having a comprehensive crisis communication plan in place will create a social media strategy in times of need and help you keep emotionally detached during what may be a difficult situation. For more information about how to plan for negative social media, read our blog about building a crisis communications plan or contact a BoldThink representative today.

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