Public Relations Tactics

Responding to Negative Feedback on Your Social Networking Sites

August 2, 2013

Many clients still don’t want to jump into social networking sites because of the fear of negative feedback.

So here’s what I tell them:

Imagine that you walk into your favorite shoe store. You try on a beautiful pair of shoes and buy them. You take them home and discover that the heel is damaged. You go back to the store the next day feeling frustrated and the owner tells you that he’s sorry; he can’t take the shoes back. You leave the store angry, but the storeowner has no idea how mad you are. You proceed to call all of your friends who go to that store and tell them to never go back. As the weeks go by, the storeowner sees less and less business. He doesn’t understand why. Eventually, he closes down.

Now, take that same scenario and imagine that the person wrote something on the store’s Facebook wall. At least the storeowner knows where the damage is coming from. One can have controls in place and alleviate the negativity by turning it into positivity.

A positive spin

About a year ago, I went to the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park, Long Island during the weekend of Fourth of July with my parents. We decided to go after seeing a coupon for a discount book in the local newspaper. After picking up our coupon books, I tried to use the coupons at several stores. However, at each store I went to, the employees told us that the coupons were not valid because it was a holiday weekend and that we couldn’t use coupons on items that were already discounted.

I was mad. I felt like it was a bait and switch! I wrote a blog entry and posted it for all of my friends to see. I tweeted it out and posted it on Facebook. And, after I did that, I felt better.

A few weeks later, I received a letter from Tanger’s corporate office in North Carolina. They wrote me to apologize for my inconvenience and offered me a $25 gift card. After that gesture, I rescinded my blog post and I told everyone what happened. So Tanger Outlets received positive press from me just by responding.

What should you do if someone provides negative feedback about you or your company?

  • Acknowledge it immediately. Don’t delete or ignore negative statements unless they are cruel. There are some people who write malicious statements that aren’t constructive or make accusations that aren’t accurate. If someone says something, then respond to him or her.
  • Don’t get defensive. By becoming defensive, you will just escalate the attack. Try to talk in a direct way and be transparent.
  • Take it off-line. Move the conversation off-line if you can. Then, talk to the person via email, direct message or telephone. Perhaps you can come to an agreement that will suit both parties, such as a gift certificate or a refund.
  • Be honest and sincere. Explain why you can or can’t take a certain action but remember that social media is about customer service as much as it is about being social.
  • Follow up. After you resolve an issue, make sure to follow up and let the other person know that you care about them and want to make sure they are satisfied.
  • Don’t remove the post. Unless it is something mean that doesn’t have anything to do with your product or service, don’t delete the negative comments. If it’s a direct attack against you personally and isn’t constructive, then it’s OK to take it down.


Hilary JM Topper
Hilary JM Topper is the president/CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc., located in New York City and Long Island. Follow her on Twitter (@hilary25), visit her blog ( and listen to her radio show (


Robert Krueger says:

I might add that step #1 above can be a little different if you comments go into a queue until approved. Don't ignore it, but respond off-line.

Nov. 2, 2013

Luisana Santana says:

Great article

Dec. 18, 2015

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