5 Ways Brands Can Deal with Negative Facebook Posts

Recently my team helped launch a consumer brand’s Facebook page.  We did it in conjunction with a new product announcement and a partnership with a major brand that already had several hundred thousand fans on their Facebook page.

Everything went terrific.

Argue until this cow goes home.

But within two hours we got our first negative post on Facebook.  It was rather scathing.

And it was from an employee.

Now you can argue until the cows come home the wisdom of a worker lambasting their own employer on Facebook – on the day of its launch no less.

But my client was well prepared because we had discussed negative posts and what to do with them many times.

We had a plan in place.  Because negative Facebook posts aren’t an IF they are a WHEN.

Every brand – every person, in fact – has to deal with them sooner or later.

Here’s are five ways to deal with negativity on your brand’s Facebook page:

1. Ignore It.

Believe it or not, you don’t have to respond to every negative comment, especially if you are a brand with thousands or millions of fans.  If you get a lot of traffic then the negative post will likely drop off the front page rather quickly.  Responding to a negative post can legitimize it or invite others to jump in and escalate it.  So NOT responding is an option and one that should be considered, especially if it is one of those off-the-wall or bizarre negative comments.

2. Delete It.

If a negative post goes over the line or violates your brand’s standards – then don’t hesitate to delete it.  There’s no reason why a brand has to keep a profanity-laced tirade or a personal attack published on its pages.  It is best to explain why you are deleting the post and subsequently remind fans that there is an engagement guideline for your page (and if you don’t have a set of posting standards then you should rectify that immediately).

3. Let Your Fans Handle It.

In the example I gave above, my client actually didn’t have to respond.  Within minutes several other fans had posted comments defending my client’s brand and criticizing the negative poster for unfair comments – and posting a comment about their own employer on the wrong venue.  One of the best values of having a Facebook page is that this is the place where a brand’s biggest advocates gather and they can be your best defenders when negativity erupts.

4. Redirect It.

Facebook is generally managed by communications and marketing people.  They often can’t answer specific questions about things like product specifications, billing disputes or late orders.  Many times posters on Facebook aren’t really trying to be negative at all, but have a problem that needs to be solved.  So help them solve the problem by redirecting them to someone that can help them.  Provide a name or a phone number with the assurance that you’ve forwarded their complaint to a person waiting for them to call or to email.

5. Deal With It.

If all else fails then you’re going to have to deal with it.  First make sure you have a crisis plan in place and have already considered what kinds of problems and negativity you might expect on Facebook.  Think it through and actually write them out as a guide to use in the future.

When you get a negative post then address the concern head on.  If the poster is wrong – tell them so and why they are.  The key is to be polite and professional.  Don’t get sucked into the emotion.  Don’t be drawn into a flame war.  Avoid sarcasm and attempts at humor.  And above all be honest and transparent.  It is amazing how the most volatile complainer can pull a 180 when addressed openly, honestly and respectfully.


Photo by WWarby (via Flickr)

2 Responses to “5 Ways Brands Can Deal with Negative Facebook Posts”

  1. A great topic. I’m sure there are many companies that launch a Facebook page without giving thought to the possibility of negative comments. Do you suggest responding to such comments in the comment field, for all to see?

  2. Hi Mike:
    Depends on the post, but for the most part I’d recommend posting in the comment field. Keep the complaint or the negativity isolated in a single topic field rather than spread it out on everyone’s news feed.

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