Dealing with Social Media Detractors

Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer is a great guy and one of those folks that I don’t always agree with but I always respect. Jason has always been in the fray – working with clients to develop their social media strategies.

One chunk of advice that I share with everyone is Jason’s methodology for dealing with detractors online – I first heard him speak about it at Blog Indiana in 2010.

  • Acknowledge their right to complain.
  • Apologize, if warranted.
  • Assert, if warranted.
  • Assess what will help them feel better.
  • Act accordingly, if possible.
  • Abdicate – sometimes a jerk is a jerk.

By the time you determine that abdication is the best possible route, the online community will have determined the same thing that you have. Often, your followers will come to your defense when this occurs.

The response to a negative situation online often defines a company and what it’s like to work with them. Marketing Pilgrim has a fantastic example of how NOT to respond to negative criticism online. The example is a Pizza shop owner who got a negative Yelp review…. it’s worth the read!


  1. 1

    Great recap of Friday’s panel, Doug.

    I was lucky to sit in on Duncan Alney’s presentation on Saturday entitled: Online Reputation Management. While the information given by Jason was very informative, I felt the points were really “driven home” for me by Duncan. Even more valuable was the differentiation of whether or not a response is warranted to the complainer in the first place, as it was put, ‘some people are chronic complainers’. The trick is when to know *if* a response is warranted just as much as it is *how* to phrase it.

    This all goes back to transparency. As social media grows faster and faster, companies that “don’t get it” will struggle to keep up. Those that adapt will be the ones to survive. They can think of it like this: you wouldn’t let your employee’s drive recklessly behind the wheel of a company vehicle on a busy street, so why would they let people in charge of their social media efforts that essentially do the same thing? More often than not, both ways you wind up with disastrous results and reputations suffer.

  2. 2

    I typed in some of the words from the post in quotes on google and found the original post and the debate still rages. There are those who love the place and those who HATE it. The restaurant even closed for a year because of health issues and re-opened, but the debate still rages. In the case of a restaurant a bad review hurts more than a good review because no one wants to waste money and there are so many options. A common thread in all the bad reviews is that one of the restaurant’s employees, the owner herself, staff, whomever did something rude. That makes me believe there’s a culture problem.

    Here’s the thread on Yelp:

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