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Social Media Comments Guide: How to Respond to Instagram Comments

TJ Kiely

May 6, 2022

Social media users aren’t shy about sharing their thoughts and feelings. Thankfully, their comments on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and other platforms are valuable tools for brands. When a user comments on your brand’s content, don't take it lightly. That engagement can help you get to know your customers more than ever.

Reading user comments is just the beginning, though. Your audience also wants you to reply. Research shows that 83% of users expect a reply within a day or less. As for how to reply, you’re going to need more than a Like button or cool emoji.

A screenshot of Taco Bell's Twitter account replying to a tweet.

We’ve got you covered with this important yet delicate process. Here’s how to respond to both positive and negative comments on social media, plus some tips for responding to your Instagram audience.

Table of Contents:

What Are Social Media Comments?

Instagram comments on a post from Teva sandals.

When we say social comments, we’re referring to the responses that users leave on your social media content. For instance, if you post an image or video to Instagram, users can leave comments that appear beneath your post.

There are lots of places a user can post a comment. For example, your audience might leave a review or recommendation on your Facebook page. Or, they might head to the comment section of your YouTube video. They could even send you a direct message (DM) on Twitter or join a discussion about your company using a specific hashtag. Social media has become a customer service channel of sorts, so users are increasingly reaching out to companies via private messages or public comments on social media pages, hoping someone will respond.

Every social media channel allows users to leave comments. You’ll usually get a notification when someone leaves a comment on a post so you can check it out and reply. It’s a good idea to assign someone to moderate comments and know how to appropriately respond to them so that you never miss an opportunity to reinforce your brand.

What Types of Social Media Comments Are There?

Social media comments can be a great way to get inside the minds of your customers. Sometimes, comments are positive. They’re sharing their own experiences with your product, giving you some virtual kudos, or recommending you to others.

Sometimes, comments are negative. People aren’t happy with their experience and want you (and others) to know about it. Some comments are questions from your audience about your product or post. And sometimes, comments are pure spam that has nothing to do with your content at all.

Each of these has varying degrees of urgency in terms of response. Let’s look at some of the types of social media comments, including what to look for and how to respond.

Positive Feedback

Positive feedback on vibesmoothiebar's Instagram Reel post

Brands love a compliment that puts them in a positive light! For example, if you’re a small restaurant, a happy customer might say: “Best meatloaf ever!”

Take these positive reviews as opportunities to reinforce your brand, say thanks, and show your appreciation for your customers.

Neutral Comments on Social Media

Response to a neutral Instagram comment.

Some comments are neither good nor bad. They don’t do anything to tear down your brand image, but they aren’t exactly building it up, either. For example, if a customer shares they’re planning to order the meatloaf, consider it a neutral comment. You might even take it to mean they like the meatloaf (so don’t change a thing about it!).

Or, customers might ask a question about a product or service. They simply want more information and choose to get in touch with you via the comment section.

Negative Social Media Comments

Negative comments on an Instagram post from Wendys

No brand likes to think they’ve done something to upset their customers. And yet, negative social media comments happen to the best of us. An example of negative feedback would be: “My meatloaf was dry and cold. Never going back.”

But don’t let a negative comment sink your ship just yet. Many people watch to see how brands respond to negative feedback. And in many cases, you can still salvage the relationship and even earn new customers from it.

study from BrightLocal found that 89% of consumers are highly likely to patronize a business that responds to all of its social media comments. In addition, 45% of users say they are likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews. That’s why learning how to properly respond to comments on social media is so important — it can tip the scales in your favor, even when the original feedback isn’t pretty!

Crisis-Mode Comments

Some comments will send you right into crisis mode. This might be someone making criminal threats, such as trying to trash or vandalize your restaurant. Or it might be something that could affect your business’s ability to stay open, like this: “I found a dead rat in my meatloaf. Disgusting!”

These aren’t just negative comments. They seriously threaten your bottom line. They instill fear in your other customers and could make people not want to do business with you, even if those comments are completely unfounded.

These types of comments on social media can’t be ignored. While crisis-level comments may be very few and far between, they do still happen. And they need to be addressed immediately — either by you or even legal authorities, depending on the content.

Spam Comments

Spam comments on a Mcdonald's Instagram post

Sometimes, a comment is pure spam and has nothing to do with your content at all. Going back to our meatloaf restaurant, you might see comments from people promoting weight loss products. They might post an affiliate link or something non-intelligible. These types of spammy comments can damage your brand image because they’re clearly spam. You don’t want people to associate your brand with spam, right?

Troll Comments

Internet trolls are deliberate troublemakers. They’ll make comments on social media that aren’t exactly geared toward you — you just happen to be convenient for them at the time. They might say something like “Meatloaf isn’t real food” or “Why would anyone even like meatloaf?”

Trolls have nothing better to do than to spread negativity. They crave attention, interaction, and engagement from others and will stop at nothing to get noticed by you. Treat them like the bears at the zoo: Don’t stick your hand through the cage to feed them.

When to Respond to Comments on Social Media

Social media icons.

One of the biggest questions a social media manager must answer is: Should I start a two-way conversation with every comment?

This is when it’s helpful to have dedicated social media management resources. Assigning someone to manage your comments on social allows you to be as responsive as possible. Here are our general rules of thumb:

  • Respond to all positive feedback, no matter how great or small. Every nice compliment is an opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships.
  • Respond to neutral feedback in a positive way. A simple “Thanks for sharing!” often does the trick, but make sure your response is relevant to their comment.
  • Respond to genuine complaints. Most negative feedback is valid and they will appreciate you taking the time to try to make the situation right. And don’t forget – the person who made the complaint isn’t the only one waiting for a response!
  • Respond to crisis situations. In some cases, you may have to involve third parties, such as your local law enforcement when comments involve a threat. Screenshot the comment, then remove it and address it accordingly.
  • Don’t respond to spam or troll comments. Engaging with trolls isn’t going to do your brand any favors since they feed off attention and don’t really care what you have to say. Even deleting their comments will only stoke the fire.

How to Respond to Instagram Comments

Capser mattress's response to a dissatisfied Instagram comment

Now that you have some general knowledge about responding to the comment section on social, let’s get a little more granular and focus just on Instagram comments.

There are several places where users can leave comments on your Instagram account. Explore where to find feedback and what to do next.

Instagram DMs

Instagram has become one of the top social media customer service channels. People are increasingly reaching out to brands in DMs with questions or expectations of customer support. If a follower sends a message to your inbox, you need to be prepared to respond.

To respond in a DM, hover your mouse over the specific message and click the curved arrow. This allows you to reply to that message. Type your message in the text box and click Send.

DMs are also helpful if you do not want to publicly respond to a comment. Simply reply to their comment that you’ve sent them a DM and then handle the rest behind closed doors. For example, if a customer commented that they still haven’t received their order from you, you wouldn’t want to share their tracking link or ask for personal details that other people could see.

Instagram Posts and Instagram Videos

Comments made on IG posts are viewable by the public. These need to be moderated and replied to promptly, especially if they contain negative content that may impact others’ impressions of your brand.

To respond to comments on a specific post, navigate to the post (via desktop or mobile app) and scroll down to the comment section. Click Reply on the comment you want to respond to. Type your thoughts and click Send.

What to Say in Your Response

It’s important to consider how your comment will appear to others. Remember — your reply might also be public to others!

Responding to positive comments is easy — just match the customer’s level of excitement. Neutral comments are easy, too. Toss in an emoji or two to make it more colorful.

Negative feedback is tougher to navigate. If the complaint is genuine, you want to come across as sincere and thoughtful in your response. Here are some tips for offering a palatable reply:

  • Start with an apology, even if the situation was beyond your company’s control.
  • Include some form of resolution, such as a discount and an invitation to give you another try.
  • Share steps you’re taking to make sure situations like these don’t happen again (if applicable).
  • Don’t engage when you’re angry. Wait for a clear head and let your logic do the talking, not your feelings. Take a step back, breathe deep, and answer when you’ve had time to thoroughly think through what you want to say.
  • Don’t argue with the customer. Now is not the time or place to talk about who is right or wrong. Your job is simply to acknowledge them and make them feel heard.

Responding to Instagram comments is a critical skill in the social media manager toolkit. It also requires real-time insights and an always-on approach to make sure you never miss a message. To learn more about how Meltwater can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your social media marketing, get a demo.