What to do when someone says, “You Suck!” on Social Media. Part II.

Yesterday we came to grips with the fact that not everyone out there is going to like you.  And in today’s era of the empowered consumer, angry customers no longer have to sit down and write (and stamp) a letter if they want to complain.  Oh no, they just grab their phone and with a couple of clicks, they are screaming the horrors of your company on their Facebook page, your Facebook page, their Twitter, blog, Instagram, etc.

What’s a company or a show to do?

Here are three ways to respond to negative social media mentions.


1.  Respond to the comment.

While not every comment needs or deserves a response, the right response can not only soothe the savage commenter, but more importantly it can demonstrate to any potential customers how much you care.  And that’s a double marketing whammy.  Need an example?  Just a week or so ago we got a Yelp review for That Bachelorette Show.  Even though it was a four star review, they recommended that bachelorette parties NOT buy the Bachelorette Party Package because this patron didn’t think it was worth the $50 price tag.  What did we do?  We responded.  We apologized.  And then we did the unthinkable.  We offered to refund (!) the $50 she spent on it.  GASP!  The refund would make her happy, but more importantly, anyone else considering purchasing tickets to the show (and isn’t that what people cruising Yelp are doing?) would immediately think, “Wow.  They didn’t have to do that.  And if I have a problem, they’ll probably take care of it too.”  And with that one response, we successfully reduced future customers’ risk in buying tickets.  And what are we out?  $50?  Nope.  Not a penny.  Because as I predicted to my sales folks, the person who wrote the comment never even called us to get her money back.  #Winning

What’s the alternative to this strategy?  Well, you don’t respond.  And the wound festers.  And the customer tells more people how much they are pi$$ed.  Put a band aid on it before it gets worse.

2.  Read the comment three times.

I read every negative comment or tweet as least three times to see if I can find any truth to it.  Does this person have a point?  Give your customers the respect they deserve by hearing them out, even when they are ranting.  Is there anything you can do to make the experience better to avoid this comment in the future?  Why sure, everyone may not be complaining, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.  And here’s my rule . . . if you receive the same criticism three times?  You’ve got a problem.  Fix it, or it will only get worse.  To continue with the example from above, you better believe we took stock of that Bachelorette Party Package immediately to see if we could add more value to it.  We made a subtle change the next day.  No comments since.

3.  Get more comments.

Sometimes the best way to to quiet a negative comment is to drown it out with positive ones.  Sure the rant about The Book of Mormon was a one star review, but there are over 400 others that make that commenter look like an outlier.  Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t mean go out and and get your friends to write BS reviews or tweets or Facebook comments saying how awesome your show is.  Schilling is so obvious.  No, you go out there and get comments the good ol’ fashioned way . . . encourage your happy customers to tweet and Yelp and everything else they can do.  And yes, incentivize them to do so with a discount or a t-shirt or whatever.  Get 100s of positive comments and the few negative ones will sound like they were at a different show (which they probably should have been anyway).

And here’s one bonus tip on how to deal with negative social media:

4.  To delete or not delete?

Never, ever (did I say ever?) delete negative comments (if you have control).  Usually the commenter will realize what you’ve done and come back with a vengeance.  It may hurt your ego to see a chink in your word-of-mouth armor, but use it as motivation to get more people to say better things.  And, if this commenter is in the minority?  Well watch how your rabid fans will come to your rescue, defending you and then pouncing on him.  It’s social media street justice, and when it happens, it’s so cool to watch.  Ok, wait, there is one time when it is ok to delete comments.  If someone uses hate speech, vulgarity, etc. take ’em down.  No site (and yeah, I’m talking to you YouTube) should be a free-for-all of obscene hate.


Accept it.  You will get negative comments.  That’s a given.

What isn’t, is how you will deal with them.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Come to the Davenport Theatrical Spring Tag Sale at the Davenport Theatre tomorrow, 5/1, and Saturday, 5/2!  Click here for more information.

– Listen to Podcast #17, featuring Elizabeth Furze from AKA Advertising. Click here.

– Win 2 tickets to Goodspeed’s The Theory of Relativity! Click here.

  • Charles Knouse says:

    Ken, a superb blog. You are right on the money. What this also displays is emotional maturity.

    It is so easy to get mad and do self-destructive things online; but it is a sign of emotional immaturity; one should never allow one’s limbic system – the “lizard brain” – to rule LOL. It takes wisdom and very good advice (mentoring) and a strongly willed ability to over-rule one’s negative emotions, but it must be done to become happily successful. I had the advantage of being trained by Andy LeCompte in much of this, and spending seven years in a cult where we daily practiced being non-judgmental helped a LOT, so I recognize emotional maturity when I see it, and this blog is a prime example.

    People who are hurting write negative things; people who are not hurting – and have emotional intelligence, perhaps a better way of putting it – are always kind, even if they have to convey negative information. That inherent tone of kindness causes them to relay information in a very objective, fair manner – qualities markedly missing from an anger rant.

    Thank you so much for the advice and the kind tone, extremely valuable advice and a pleasure to read.

  • Thomas says:

    We no longer live a society with any sense of decorum. Everything and Everyone is fair game. It is very easy to spew hateful comments when one does not have the intellectual capacity to edit their own thoughts in a respectful and non-judgmental way. That is why the Press has editors, to “clean up” what is deemed inappropriate to published. We now have millions of people who believe they are justifiable in their critique, yet most demonstrate no professionalism what so ever. It seems it will take many, many years before these novice critics, will tire of always having to speak their minds and let the true professionals, “with their inside knowledge”, speak their minds.

    It’s fine and dandy to offer ones opinion, but at least show some Class!

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