How to Deal with Negative Comments or Reviews on Social Media

No matter how amazing your school is, you will receive negative comments on social media at some point in time. Sometimes it’s more about the commenter having a bad day or frustrated about something unrelated to your school than anything that happened at your school. Regardless of the source, the person’s frustration comes out in the form of a negative review or comment on Facebook or another social channel.

We live in a world where people have a voice. Parents and students can take pictures and videos, interact with others and create a positive or negative buzz about their experiences with your school as they perceive them. And unfortunately, their perceptions aren’t always true.

I know it can be frustrating, especially because social media is an essential part of any modern school marketing strategy. For this reason, customer service on social media demands a dedicated strategy. Effective social media management needs to be in place, particularly when it comes to dealing with negative comments. How to deal with negative comments on sois crucial for your school’s brand perception, and a well-thought-out strategy can help avoid damage to your school’s reputation.

Here are 10 tips to help you effectively manage negative social comments or reviews.

  1. Don’t take it personally

We all tend to take negative comments personally, especially when it’s about our school that we love. In actuality, though, it’s not personal. The reviewer responds to their experiences, or perception of their experience, just as they would any other school or business. Put on your professional cap and remember it’s not a reflection of an individual person.

  1. Respond in a professional manner

It’s so easy to get defensive in these types of situations. But a challenge will just compound the issue. Even if you are certain things didn’t happen the way they say they did, it’s best to calm down and not reactive defensively.

  1. Always respond, no matter how busy you are

It’s important to respond to each and every complaint or negative comment as quickly as possible. You don’t want the issue to fester, and you don’t want the person who is upset to start posting on a myriad of other platforms. So nip it in the bud and take care of it right away.

  1. Restate the complaint

Restating the complaint will help the complainant feel heard. For example, if a parent is complaining they can’t get in to see the principal soon enough. Try to find out what was said and who said it (maybe the secretary legitimately was having a hard time finding a slot on the principal’s schedule).

  1. Highlight your school’s strengths

Respond to a negative complaint with a positive response that highlights your school’s strengths, i.e., “We’ve been operating for over 50 years, serving hundreds of students over the years. Each and every family is important to us. We would like to extend XXX to you…”

  1. Take it offline

In the scenario where the parent feels they are being “put off” by the principal, direct message the parent and see if you can call them right away. Try to get as much information as possible and then you can contact the secretary to see how quickly the parent can get in or if there’s someone else who can address the parent’s concern.

You don’t want to get into the details of the situation in a public forum. As quickly as possible, move the conversation to a private or direct message, email or, even better, a phone call.

  1. Deal effectively with trolls

Trolling is when someone just wants to stir up trouble. They troll across social media and enjoy the attention they get. And your interaction only encourages them to carry on this behavior further.

If you’re sure the complainant is a troll, and their complaint is without merit, the best strategy is to ignore them. However, since social media is highly public, you may want to make one comment stating what they are saying is inaccurate and unfair – and include the facts to support your statement. This will at least give other viewers a true picture.

  1. Be appreciative

All feedback is useful. Appreciate that someone took their time to share their feelings, even if it seem harsh. Even negative reviews can actually be a way to retain families. To make that happen, be sure to let the complainant know how you will be addressing the situation and express your appreciation for their feedback.

  1. Take appropriate action

If there needs to be a correction, be sure to communicate your response to the parent. Take all negative comments seriously, at least until you are sure you have gotten to the bottom of the situation. Use what you learn to improve things, even if it’s just to create a new policy or internal procedure.

  1. Focus on getting more positive reviews

Encourage parents that are thrilled with the education their student is receiving at your school to write positive reviews so that, in effect, you are “drowning” out the negative one. A good time to do this is right after parent-teacher conferences.

You can also encourage the negative reviewer to update their review once the situation has been resolved. Every positive review you receive will help take the sting out of a negative one. Ten negative reviews out of 100 positive ones isn’t such a big deal.

One note: don’t delete comments yourself, as it can incite more anger and additional comments are likely to be highly incendiary. In some cases, you can hide the comment from public view but keep it visible to the user who posted it. This lessens the potential for additional conflict.

Remember that a negative comment or review is an invitation for you to listen and gain a deeper understanding of the commenter. It also gives you an opportunity to respond with empathy and transparency. It may not be much fun to handle a negative complaint but reacting in a positive and friendly manner will go a long way toward earning you a stronger audience and devoted families in the long run.

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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