How to Handle Negativity Online

  • Negative feedback occurs when people who have used your product or service and commented about their unhappiness on your social profiles or accounts.
  • Spamming and trolling occur when someone decides to target you and your profile with abusive, inappropriate comments.
  • How you respond to negative feedback is not the same way you respond to trolls or spammers. These require different approaches.
  • Negative feedback requires a response. Reply as quickly as possible and attempt to move the conversation offline.
  • There are limited situations in which you should ever hide or delete negative comments or posts. Learn what they are and learn how to handle the rest.

Everyone will encounter negativity online. Remember to never let one person’s awful comments stop you from being the successful person you can be.

  • The many ways you may encounter negativity online – 01:52
  • The good thing about negative feedback – 02:39
  • Teresa’s own experiences with negativity online – 04:38
  • Tactics for responding to negative feedback – 07:11
  • Tackling trolls and spammers – 10:06
Transcript below


Hello there, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me on episode number seven of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple Podcast, and I am your host,, Teresa Heath-Wareing. I am so glad you decided to come along today and I hope you are having a brilliant week.

I'm really excited about today's episode as I think this is something that most of people are going to be able to relate with that either they have experienced it themselves or they have a fear of it, so, today, I am talking about how to handle negative feedback, and trolls, and spamming online.

Like I said, I'm really excited about this. Maybe excited isn't the right word, but I am excited to share this because I think lots of people are going to experience this. Whether they have directly experienced it themselves, whether it's been some online comments about the business that they work in or manage their social media for, or whether you are lucky enough to never have experienced any negative comments on social media or online, but it worries you, and it worries you about putting yourself out there just in case someone does say or do something.

This is something that I have dealt with myself and, later on in the episode, I'm going to explain what happened and how it feels from a personal point of view because, actually, it's all well and good me telling you what to do in these scenarios, but when it happens to you, I can tell you, it feels a little bit different, and I'm going to talk you through how you can handle this and manage it going forward.


The many ways you may encounter negativity online


Before I dive in on how to handle these situations, I think it's important that we talk about the different types of situations there are, because the big difference between receiving negative feedback and someone, say, spamming or trolling you, so let's start with negative feedback.

If you are a business or a service and you put yourself online and you're on social media, and someone goes onto any of those social media platforms or forums or onto your website through the comments and decides that they're going to put a comment about your business where they have expressed that they're not very happy with the service that they received. They said something about the product wasn't very good or they didn't like the way a member of the staff treated them or whatever it was. This is negative feedback. This isn't spamming and this isn't trolling.


The good thing about negative feedback


Negative feedback should actually be seen as a good thing. I know you're going to think, “Teresa, you've lost your mind,” but, I promise you, I haven't. If your service or product isn't where it needs to be, then, obviously, you need to know about that. You need people to tell you what is wrong with your product or service so that you can improve it.

However, like with most things, there is an exception to the rule. Some people do just like to moan because that's their thing. In most cases, you're going to have constructive feedback from people rather than just people being mean for the sake of being mean, but this is what we mean by negative feedback, someone who's actually used your product or service and wasn't happy with the outcome.

Also, in most cases of negative feedback, once they have gone on and said what was wrong and had a response from you, then they tend to then just leave it. They won't be coming back every week to keep repeating the same thing, and this is where it differs from spamming and trolling.

Now, what spamming and trolling is is when someone has decided for whatever reason, and the key thing here is not to take it personally, although it's really hard to do, for whatever reason, they've decided that they're going to be targeting you and your profile. These are people who have not used your service normally or you don't even know. They might know you. They can be local, but they are deciding to target you with normally abusive or personal comments.

They might comment on the photos and say not nice things or constantly reply to your tweets by sending some abuse or just saying things that aren't appropriate, and, in these cases, they can be relentless. They can do it over and over and over again. Hopefully, you can see that these are two very different things and, therefore, when we deal with them, we will do it in two very different ways.


Teresa’s own experiences with negativity online


But before I dive in, I mentioned earlier on in the podcast that I had had some experience of this myself and I wanted to share it with you.

Now, in terms of what actually happened, it wasn't massive. I had someone send me some tweets, kind of a barrage of tweets about me and what I did and they didn't like it, and I also had someone comment on some videos that I advertised, but the reason I wanted to share it with you is because it's a very different thing dealing with it yourself personally than it is if I was doing it for a business or I was helping a client with some negative feedback because of the fact, if I was working for a client, I'm not personally involved. That isn't hurting me because it's not about me, but when you do a job like mine or you are a personal brand, then, obviously, anything that anybody says is directly about you, and it hurts. It's not nice because most humans want to be liked by other humans and, when someone suddenly says something, it can really knock your confidence.

I remember that one of the days that these tweets came through, the following day, I was actually going to do a fairly large talk and I was terrified, and I sat there and doubted everything. I thought, “What if they're right? What if I'm not very good? What if I don't speak well on stage?” They really knocked my confidence and, instead of thinking about all those amazing comments that I've had, all the lovely people that come up to me and say they enjoyed my talk or thanked me for some training or they listened to the podcast, instead of thinking about all those, you focus on this one person and, like I said, it can be really hard, so I wanted to mention it because, if this happens to you, I want you to try your hardest to block that out, to basically step away and decide that, “You know what? You're not going to be liked by everybody,” but think about all those lovely people who have said stuff and, “Actually, are you going to let this one person stop you?

When you're sucked there in it, you're thinking to yourself, “Oh, I'm just going to give up, you know. I don't want to receive this negative feedback. I don't want people to say mean things.” Why would you let them stop you being the success that you can be? If it is about you personally, then, as hard as it is, and I'm going to tell you now, it is fairly hard, unless you've got an incredibly thick skin, and I thought I did, but I obviously haven't, so, my advice, just put it to the back of your mind and crack on.

Okay, so now we know the difference. How do you deal with them?


Tactics for responding to negative feedback


Let's look at negative feedback first. This is the one that I said was someone that had used your service or product and they weren't happy, and they've gone on to social media and they filled in something or they've replied to something or they've done a review and, basically, they've said some things that aren't very positive about the product or service that you have. Now, the very first thing you need to do is reply. Respond to them as quickly as possible. The next thing you need to do is try and take them offline as quickly as possible.

Now, in previous episodes, I've talked about the algorithm, this big, scary word that we use for a set of rules. One of the things about the algorithm is, the more that someone comments and connects with the post, the more that people see it, so, if you start getting into a discussion with someone out in the social media world, then more and more people are going to start seeing that post, so the very first thing you need to do is get them off social media.

One of the ways that I word negative feedback replies is, “Thank you so much for your comments. I am so sorry that you feel this way,” or I would say, “I am so sorry that you'd have to reach out,” or, “I'm so sorry that you've had this experience.”

Now, in any of those responses, I am not saying, “We've done something wrong.” I'm apologising for the fact that they've had to go to the effort to contact us, so, like I said, you thank them for their comments or you apologise for the fact that they'd have to do something and then, “I would really love to speak to you about this. Please contact me on,” or, “Please contact us through the direct messages,” or, “I have sent you a direct message.”

You are acknowledging that they've sent you a message. You're thanking them because, as I said earlier, we want this feedback, ideally, on the positive stuff, but that's fine. We have to have the negative some time. You are apologising for the fact that they've had to go to the effort to say something, and then you're saying to them you are really interested to discuss it with them, but you're giving them an alternative way in which to discuss it.

Hopefully, that makes sense. The key thing is responding and getting them off social media as quickly as possible. Often, when people moan on social media, they just want to be heard, so just respond to them and, obviously, be genuinely interested as to what the problem was, but, in most cases, if it's a genuine problem, they will either send you a direct message or they will contact you and you'll be able to resolve it that way.

With negative feedback, I wouldn't suggest deleting or hiding the post. The only time I would do this on negative feedback is if they have used abusive language or they have said something that really isn't appropriate, they've used bad language, but, otherwise, I leave the post up there, and, like I said, it's more about your response to it than necessarily the negative post in the beginning.


Tackling trolls and spammers


This point brings us nicely onto spamming and trolling and how we deal with them. As I said earlier, spamming and trolling are people that haven't used your service or your product. They have just decided to go to your account and, normally, send you inappropriate or offensive comments or posts. The only way that I see to deal with people like this is to hide and block and delete.

You could try and respond to them with a positive comment. However, I suspect that that would just encourage them more, and it hasn't seemed to have helped in the past. Like I said, I kind of wouldn't waste my time. I would just delete them and hide them and block them from doing it again.

I really hope that this has been helpful and you have enjoyed this week's episode, and I really look forward to seeing you again this time next week.