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Dealing with negative comments on social media

We all know that social media is a great tool to tell your story, engage with your donors, and ultimately achieve your mission. In fact, nonprofit organizations that are not using social media are seriously losing out, not only funding, but also supporters, volunteers, and awareness for their cause. But do you know that social media is also a very important tool that can be used to protect and promote your reputation?

Social media blurs the line between members of the public and an organization. It shortens the time you have to react to relevant topics and public opinions affecting your organization’s reputation. For this reason, you must be in the conversation to manage critical situations, and you need to know how to respond appropriately to mitigate issues.

We have seen clients who felt reluctant to be on social media because they were afraid of having a brand reputation crisis caused by negative comments. However, fear of what the audience might say about your organization on social media is not the reason to avoid using it and harnessing its power. People will be sharing their opinions about your organization, positive or negative, what really matters is whether you engage in the conversation with them.

To help you deal with these uncomfortable situations, we have put together some actions you can take when receiving bad reviews, complaints, or just negative comments about your organization on your social media channels.

But first, let’s take a look at what you MUST avoid:

  • Taking negative feedback or complaints personally
  • Responding with excuses or justifications
  • Deleting negative comments or ignoring them


1. Create a social media policy

A social media policy provides guidelines, sets boundaries for appropriate behaviour, and defines what is acceptable and what is not in your social media channels. You can refer to this document when responding to comments that are not appropriate, abusive, or defamatory.

2. Offer a quick response

If someone took the time to write a negative comment on one of your pages, they clearly have a problem with your organization. The last thing they want is being ignored. This will only make things worse. By having a short response time, you show them, and all your followers in general, that you care about what they have to say and try to make things right when a problem arises.

3. Monitor comments and mentions

The only way to find those unpleasant comments is to be on track of all messages that come through your social channels. People in charge of managing your social media accounts should be listening and monitoring engagement frequently. Only in this way can you detect those comments that require immediate attention.

4. Take the conversation private

Once you have replied to that negative comment politely, try to move the conversation offline by suggesting continuing the chat in a more private environment such as direct messages in that platform, or by email. If you move the conversation away from your feed, you will keep others from aggravating the problem by commenting and adding more fuel to the fire.

5. Establish a plan to handle common questions

This doesn’t mean that you are going to use the same generic responses over and over again. It is just about going back in your social feeds and looking for common questions or issues that usually arise in your pages and try to craft a plan to handle them. It will help your team save time and headaches along the way. Create a spreadsheet that contains the most asked links, and most common problems, and allocate who will be responsible to handle each of them. By doing this, you will smooth the process of dealing with these kinds of uncomfortable scenarios.

6. Personalize your message

Make your response personal and show that you care. By making your responses personal, you show that you care about their situation. People need to feel that they are talking with a person who is trying to be helpful, solve a problem, or apologize. Your audience doesn’t want a pre-made response or a cut-and-paste comment. Although, as we explained earlier, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a plan to address common situations. Also, to make it more personal, remember to always use their first name and sign off with your first name, and not just the organization’s name.

7. Be a problem solver
Try to be helpful and keep your tone cool. Even if you don’t have a solution to their problem right away, empathize with your followers. Let them know that you are actively working to provide them with a solution and will follow up ASAP.

You are all set now! Next time you receive bad feedback on social media, remember that responding correctly can make a huge difference!


This is an article by Alba Lopez, Social Media Specialist at C(Group.