If you have been in ministry for any length of time, you have had some people say less than flattering things about you.
But when they do it online, it can sting.
In today’s episode, we unpack some of the tools in our arsenal when dealing with negative church reviews.
We hope it helps your church reach more people and grow.
Table of contents
Remember It’s Normal
We all tend to get bummed out when someone says something less than flattering about our church. But if you do anything for any length of time, you will have some naysayers online. Take it as a confirmation that you are doing something right.
Delete The Review If Possible
In some cases, you will be able to remove a review or negative comment. This is always the best option. Don’t feel like you have a responsibility to be authentic and give your haters a platform. If it is in your control to remove negative feedback, do so promptly.
Flag The Review For Consideration
If you can’t remove the review altogether, your next best option is to flag the review if there is some violation. Sites like Yelp will allow you to do this if the review mentions someone by name and they are not a public figure. Once the review is flagged, the site hosting the comment will take a look at it, and if they decide it violates their terms, they can remove or suppress the content.
Respond To The Review
If you can’t get rid of the comment, your next step is to respond online. Don’t ever ignore bad reviews. If you do, other people will comment, and it can quickly turn into bashing. Here are some of the best practices when responding.
Apologize if you can
If any fault lies on your church, a well-written apology can go a long way if you made a mistake. Be clear in naming what you did wrong, and if you have a plan to keep that from happening in the future, let them know. Do not apologize for something that you did not do wrong.
Offer to have a conversation offline.
If there is hope for reconciliation, offer to talk to the person with negative feedback offline. This serves two functions. It allows you to connect and hash out your differences. It also lets those who see the negative review know that you are open to feedback and outside concerns. That is a good look for churches.
Do not criticize the reviewer.
Do not make the mistake of attacking the person leaving the review. Remember that those who read the comment are usually not aware of all the backstory and context. Criticizing people online is a bad look for churches.
Do not debate the issue.
Often, people are tempted to debate an issue brought up in a negative review. This is almost always a bad idea. A debate will always invite more people to comment on the review, which will only bring more attention to the original complaint.
Do not respond more than once
While it may be challenging to let it lie, it is essential not to go back and forth with a negative reviewer. This will only give the comment and the subsequent disagreement more visibility. Your best bet is to follow the steps above and offer no further comment.
Ask For Positive Reviews
Sometimes when you get a bad review, there is just nothing you can do to fix it. In that case, your best bet is to let it be and ask for more positive reviews. Reviews tend to stop ranking on search engines over time. If you have five positive reviews since your last negative review, people won’t even see the bad ones. And if they do, they also saw what your fans had to say.