Boss Lady

Dealing with difficult people on social media: 9 crucial strategies


This short guide outlines strategies for dealing with difficult people on social media, in ways that will actually enhance your brand rather than undermining it.

Any time you deal with the public, you have to be ready for negative interactions. Before social media took over as the way to promote a brand, this would have come in the form of in person interactions or angry letters. Now with anonymity available to all through social media, people can hide their identity while spewing negativity wherever and to whomever they choose, which means you could be dealing with difficult people on a regular basis.

Oddly enough, the basic rules of replying to negativity and dealing with difficult people on social media are still very similar to what you would do if the person was standing in front of you. What has changed is the sheer amount of responses you may need to make since they can be in the thousands on social media depending on the success of your brand.

Even though negative responses or dealing with difficult people and clients can be challenging, it is important not to let any of those things get you off track from concentrating on your success. You have to continue to do the work of updating accounts, sharing regularly, making your posts interesting and staying positive. So when you respond to negativity on social media, you want to keep your brand and tone very consistent.

Strategies for dealing with difficult people on social media

Consider these tips for dealing with difficult people while keeping in mind your brand and the success you want to maintain whether you offer a product, service or a lifestyle:

Stay on top of things

Even though keeping up with all of the social media platforms you use to communicate your brand may seem overwhelming, you have to know how people are responding both negatively and positively. Use technology to stay on top of things. Tools like Google Alerts and Mention help you to keep up with posts about your brand,, to give you early alerts on when you may need to be dealing with difficult people. Regularly visit review sites, depending on your product, and forums where your customers comment. If you have grown to a place where you cannot do this yourself, hire someone to do it.

Determine if a response is needed

You may not have to respond to every negative comment when dealing with difficult people. Do a little research checking to see if it’s a critic where anyone can see the comment is outrageous, or if it is a bot, or someone just picking a fight. This negativity will be better left alone and often your happy customers will take care of those for you.

Respond quickly

If you determine that a response is needed when dealing with difficult people, especially if it is a complaint you can calm or fix, do it quickly. Most reasonable customers would expect a response on social media in a few days, a disgruntled one will want a more prompt response. Also remember that bad reviews or word of mouth can spread like wildfire on social media. You want to head this off with a prompt, helpful response. If you cannot respond immediately, then post a comment giving your name and letting the customer know you are checking on the problem and will respond soon.

Be personable

Think back to a time when you would be dealing with difficult people face-to-face. It is important to be empathetic and friendly in tone. If possible use your real name and a photo when responding. Let them know how sorry you are there is a problem and how you would like to make it right.

When you interact online think of yourself as having human resource professionals looking over your shoulder every time you start to respond to negative posts. No matter how difficult the customer is being, you have to maintain a professional manner remembering that your goal is keeping your brand on track and making your customers happy.

Make it public

It may be tempting to message the customer privately to work out an issue but this is not a wise move for your brand when dealing with difficult people. Remember other customers are reading the same comments and are looking for your response as well. If they see the complaint but don’t see a public response, they will assume you did not give one.

If they see a negative comment or review that you responded to in an effective way, they will be impressed and know that they can count on you and your brand for great customer service.

Give a real apology

A real apology is important when dealing with a dissatisfied or difficult customer. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” is not a great way to go. Your apology needs to show that you understand like “I’m so sorry this happened and I want to apologize and make it right.” Often this type of real apology will cool down even the angriest customer when dealing with difficult people.

Make it right

When you apologize properly to the customer on social media, you need to then include an offer to make the situation better. This can include replacing the product or offering a discount on future items. It can also be an offer of something free or a special interaction, if your brand is lifestyle related. Most customers, even the most difficult, will be satisfied with a real apology and a resolution of the issue.

Don’t argue

When interacting online, stay calm and professional at all costs when dealing with difficult people. Most people still remember the adage “The customer is always right,” and they will not look fondly on a company whose representative becomes combative. If this is a real customer complaint that you have chosen to respond to, you can also know that others feel the same way and are looking to see how your brand will respond.

Earn positive reactions

When you publicly respond well to a disgruntled customer, people will be watching and will be talking. Just as a bad review can spread like wildfire, so can a positive response especially if that dissatisfied customer turns into one of your biggest fans. By treating one customer well, you will be showing thousands more how far you are willing to go to make them happy.


Getting negative feedback can be challenging and may feel very personal when you are your brand or you have worked long and hard to create the service or product you are selling. Try to think of dealing with difficult people as an opportunity to show your customers just how much you care about them and about your brand.

The time and effort you put in resolving an issue, even with a difficult person, will pay off when potential customers see they can trust you and your brand.

About Rebecca Wise'

Rebecca Wise is a business advisor who focuses on strategy and marketing as the key factors for success in today’s changing environment.

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