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To Engage or Not to Engage Online With Negative Posters? That is the Question

Friday, September 9, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Behan, Socius Marketing
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Many of the companies I have spoken with don’t really know when or how to engage with people leaving negative online comments on their corporate social media sites. To engage or not to engage with the users of online review sites can be a tricky dilemma. Handled correctly, you may come out smelling like a rose. Handled incorrectly, you could do irreparable harm to your reputation.


The Internet has become a hub for social interactions, and this has compounded the social reputation problem. Potential patients look for reviews not only on specific services and treatments, but also on the facilities and physicians that are offering them. Because these reviews will most certainly influence the patient’s decision to act and get care, having a clean online reputation, or at least being engaged with online reviewers in an appropriate manner, is paramount to any online marketing efforts.


Here are some best practices to follow when it comes to engaging, or not engaging, with online reviewers:


Don’t Over-Engage Online. If someone leaves a negative post about your company on a review website, make sure to keep your response brief, should you decide to respond at all. Long responses, in which you try to explain what happened or correct inaccuracies in a post, never end well. First, it gives the poster a very public platform to continue complaining about your company. Second, search engines like Google thrive on new content, so every response you post will drive the negative review higher and higher in search engine results, where it’s more likely to be seen.


My Advice: Only respond to a negative post once and keep your reply short. For example: “We apologize that you are not completely satisfied with your recent visit. Please call us at 888-555-5555 and we will rectify your concerns quickly.”


This will show others who read the post that you care about your patients and that you are offering a resolution. Additionally, encouraging the posters to call you moves the conversation off-line, which is exactly what you want to happen.


Reasoning with the Unreasonable. George Carlin once said, “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” The reality is there may be some negative posts that you simply shouldn’t respond to. Some posters are so outrageous that it is better to ignore them.


Responding to them only helps make their arguments appear more credible. If the post is so ridiculous that it is simply unbelievable, the best course of action may be to not respond at all.


My Advice: Read the site’s posting policies and consider alerting the webmaster to any policy violations the post contains. Most reputable review sites want only good, credible reviews and will, in some cases, take down reviews that are deceitful, harassing, etc.



  • Don’t keep clicking on the link to the site that contains the negative review. This may artificially promote that site in search listings.
  • When responding to a negative review, never use the name of your company. Doing so will make the post more relevant to your company name, again promoting it in search results.
  • If the post contains language that is libelous, copyrighted, etc., you may have legal recourse. If you can get a judgment, Google can delist that site.


There are many effective tools you can use to monitor your brand online that will give you useful insights about consumer sentiment., for example, is a media monitoring tool that offers the user a free trial. Utilizing a tool like this one can help you quickly identify positive and negative online posts about your company with minimal effort.


Killing with Kindness. In closing, resist the urge to argue your point. Telling reviewers that it was “not your fault” never ends the way you would like, even when you are in the right. Instead, focus your effort on making posters feel that their concerns are being heard, as that is what they desire above all else.

Learn more about strategies for online reputation management by accessing the recording of the AAOE Hot Topic Webinar: Digital Engagements for Improving Your Reputation Online, sponsored by Socius Marketing. Available now in the AAOE Live Learning Center. 


About the Author

As an Internet marketing expert who has helped hundreds of companies build and enhance their web presence, Chris Behan has an unparalleled depth of knowledge in executing online campaigns to help companies stand out from their competitors online.

Drawing upon 20+ years of Internet marketing expertise, Chris frequently speaks at national conferences to guide healthcare companies on tailoring their online strategies to meet their patient acquisition goals.

He is the founder of one of the largest Internet marketing firms in the country, which successfully manages the most nationally recognized online orthopaedic marketing campaign.

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