How to respond to negative reviews online. via @scalablesocial

Negative Reviews Online – To Delete or Not to Delete?

Did someone leave a negative review for your business? Should you have it removed? Should you respond? Find out how to build loyalty from BAD reviews. via @scalablesocialLate last week, I had this conversation via text with a friend of mine who is a marketer for a small business in Phoenix:

“Question: what’s your opinion on a client posting a negative review on social media or review site? Try to remove or address issue with care and compassion?”

“Absolutely address. Take it offline ASAP though.”

“I say address it but other person at work is trying to get it deleted.”

“Absolutely do not delete it. The last session of social media marketing world was all about this. It was called “hug your haters.”

“Responding kindly and professionally to negative reviews is powerful for brand advocacy. Deleting it can escalate things. Better to see it as an opportunity to be kind and compassionate – which is exactly what people want from (your company).”

“That’s what I told my boss. It’ll make her even more angry.”

“Yup. And you don’t want to have her posting bad reviews all over the web because you make her more angry. Big fat waste of time. And stress.

Negative Reviews and Comments – To Delete or Not to Delete?

Yes, folks, we are STILL having this conversation – this push and pull between people like my friend, who understands the finer points of relationship marketing and good online customer service, and people who react to customer complaints with fear and panic, which is understandable, as the online reputation of a business can make it or break it.

Deleting a bad review (assuming you can even get it deleted) will NOT make it go away. Best case, it festers. Worse case, it blows up and haunts you for months or even years to come.

The timing for this text conversation was interesting, as I’d just returned from Social Media Marketing World where Jay Baer gave the closing keynote, “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Turn Bad News to Good.”respondtoreviews

He could not have done a better job addressing a couple thousand marketers whose brains were already full to the brim with great ideas and takeaways. It wasn’t a subject I even cared too much about, honestly (because it seemed pretty common sense to me) – but his delivery was amazing, and apparently it’s still a hotly debated issue (see text conversation above :)). He also provided some great statistics and some good (and terrible) examples of people responding to reviews.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

When your business is attacked, it is only natural to panic and then fight back. So, go ahead and write down a nasty, negative response – and then throw it away. You’ll feel better, but you won’t have shot yourself in the foot.

Then go back to whichever platform is hosting said negative review and reply nicely. Even if the person leaving the review has it wrong wrong, own any part of the failure you can and express your desire to make it right. Then, give them a way to get in touch with you so you can continue the conversation offline. True, some people are just looking for a fight, but even those provide an opportunity for valuable interaction.

This approach addresses both the disgruntled customer AND anyone reading your reviews online. If they see that you are truly interested in what your customers have to say and you desire to make everything right, you WILL create raving fans – even if the original complainer is never happy. Even with the nastiest reviewer, when you respond in a professional and compassionate manner, you will come off looking like a champ.

With All This Online Negativity, Why Not Just Stay Offline?

Some businesses avoid social media for fear of negative comments. The trouble with that reasoning is that if people want to say something bad about your business, they will – whether you are online or not. Wouldn’t you rather be part of the conversation?

Review sites are powerful tools for customers making buying decisions. Give them both sides of the story by responding to reviews – good and bad (tweet this).

How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Various Review Sites

The methods are different for each, but here are some links to get you started:

Don’t forget about industry-specific sites – Google “[My business name] reviews” to turn up more you should be watching. If you get a lot of reviews consider using a reputation management service so you don’t miss any.

Don’t Forget to Hug Your Fans!

You likely have many more rave reviews than complaints. It takes time and effort to leave those, too – so say thank you!!! Even better – if you can say thank you online AND when you see them again in person. What an impression that would make! Obviously this may not be practical for everyone, but think about the kind of loyalty that sort of attention would earn – and what their companions would think.

If you’ve been struggling with this issue, look for Jay’s upcoming book – Hug Your Haters. It’s going to be good. You should also check out a recent episode of the Web Search Social Podcast in which Ian Anderson Gray shares his takeaways on the keynote speech. It’s amazing the impact this seemingly common-sense talk had on so many of us.

How do you usually respond to negative reviews or negative comments on social media? What results have you noticed?

Article Name
Negative Reviews Online – To Delete or Not to Delete?
Did someone leave a negative review for your business? Should you have it removed? Should you respond? Find out how to build loyalty from BAD reviews.

About the Author Alisa Meredith (311 Posts)

As co-owner and chief inbound marketing consultant at Scalable Social Media, Alisa Meredith spends a lot of time keeping up with online marketing trends for the benefit of our customers. Computers have been a passion of hers since her first T1-99, so inbound and social media marketing is a natural fit.


  1. Indeed, Alisa, it may seem surprising that we are still having this conversation in 2015… Personally, I consult with brands in the hospitality vertical (hotels, destinations, restaurants) and speak at various industry events, and I am always surprised to hear some questions on this topic that seem so basic.

    Did you know that only 30-35% of all travel brands listed on sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google Reviews actually bother answering comments by clients? That’s like saying that 65-70% of brands don’t give a s**t about their customers? Crazy, right? So why aren’t companies not answering to comments left on such sites, just like questions and comments left on their social networks, for that matter?

    You are right, though. Those who hug their haters are the ones who will stand out in the long run. Hear, hear!

    Cheers and thanks for the post!

  2. Hi Alisa,

    I totally agree with what Jay had said at the conference and as you stated, it’s just good common sense.

    I’ve had three products of my own now and only two negative reviews. The first was just someone who definitely got up on the wrong side of the bed. She publicly bashed me and I did what was suggested here. I actually had my little tantrum because I’m hotheaded and use to be known for lashing right back. But I’ve grown with age and learned to reel that baby in thank goodness. I responded in a very kind manner and profusely apologized for any inconvenience on her part. We did take it offline, I made her so happy she was about to explode and she recanted her negative review and ended up apologizing to me.

    The other one was just an opinion on the context of my product but on the same note he said he thought the world of me, appreciated everything I’ve done for the community and it was just his opinion of how it was laid out. I thanked him for his honest opinion and left the review up.

    People will respect you more if you come from a place of caring and really wanting to help your customers. I agree that some of them just need a good hug.


  3. Great advice. I’m lucky to have never experienced this but I’ve had to address some comments I didn’t like. I’ve gone both ways, and find that when I can remain calm in my response that it usually ends nicer… or at least ends lol

  4. Para gente lê nos fóruns a guitarras que Jimi Hendrix era autodidata, que Eric Clapton não sabe zero
    do que teoria músico, que os mestres dos Blues eram
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  5. I’ve helped one short term apartment rental company to fix their online reputation on multiple travel and hotel comparison websites. When you have 30 apartments and serve over 500 customers every month you always find negative reviews that need to be taken care of, and we spent a couple of weeks on this project.

    Google Maps support wasn’t cooperative and helpful. We flagged spam, empty (just stars) and negative reviews from customers that haven’t stayed with us, but Google took no action and didn’t reply to our emails and reports. We ended up replying to negative and questionable reviews offering our help in resolving the issue but obviously we never heard back from anyone.

    TripAdvisor customer support was top notch. They took time to review our case and compare review images to our actual suites photos and removed fake and spam users from our pages.

    We also attempted to clean up negative reviews on other websites (,, yelp) and was able to remove some of the fake one but not all. In some cases, we couldn’t find names on our guest/reservation list, and some reviews described services we don’t offer (it seems stayed in one place but left a review to a next door business). These sites have very strict policies and it was very hard to convince them to remove not real reviews.

  6. Negative reviews about my work are always making me feel bad.
    But, i learnt to talk them over the time and become more confident.

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