Clapping Back on Negative Reviews

Social media is fast becoming the top place to leave a review to a restaurant, hotel or retail experience. My husband always goes to Facebook to canvass answers to retail questions from his friends and family.


It is also the first place my husband looks to for opinions on everything from where to buy his latest hockey stick, to where to procure the diamond tiara I have always coveted, to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. Note to my hubby: cubic zirconia is not an acceptable option.

Negative Reviews affect Everyone – the reviewer and the reviewed

Of course, when reviews are good and rate 5 out of 5 stars, life is very good for that business. But when the reviews are bad, they can be damaging to a company’s reputation, and may even cause its demise, especially for those small businesses who rely on word of mouth and the kindness of clients. It is one thing, to keep the negative review to the facts and the experience that went south. It is clearly another thing, to use the “reviewers” platform as a place to rant and exaggerate the negative experience in such a way that it shames the establishment. Perhaps, it is a strategy for the reviewer, to receive compensation in return for a bad experience.

Image source

This folks, is not a negative review, but a move on the reviewer’s part to discredit and shame the place that did not meet the reviewer’s expectations. Regulating speech is a particularly thorny question for platforms which solicit customer feedback, as their value springs from being unfiltered and independent. In the case of the article hyperlinked earlier, the platform was TripAdvisor, infamous really, for negative reviews it publishes about hotels, restaurants and airlines. In the course of trying to shame the hotel, the review took on a sinister tone, with the reviewer implying quite flagrantly that the staff acted disrespectful and discriminatory towards them. This review appeared spiteful and malicious, and it reflected poorly on the reviewer.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

Nowadays, there are many more constructive and creative ways to respond to negative reviews. It is also the way in which a company responds that is key and crucial to their survival. It is best to take the time to prepare a well-thought-out response, that may or may not address the issue at hand, and this really depends on each review, their tone, their claim, and whether or not, this review holds any merit or water. It is also important for the response to be polite and proactive. The below response from the hotel was this:

Image source

This is a great example of how a company can take something negative and turn it into a positive just by taking the time to see the review for what it truly was, a nasty, subjective tirade, that was poorly communicated and extreme in nature. Although the response from the hotel did not address the actual complaint, the hotel took this opportunity to turn the tables on the reviewer, and expose their review as petty, and much less compelling to potential customers.

Spinning the Negative

Perhaps all businesses can learn from this hotel in Bristol. It took its time to respond, in a polite and directed way. Although the hotel did not address the mistakes that occurred during this case, it did turn things around, by spinning the negative, yet highly extreme and subjective review, to its advantage. And the hotel came out on top, smelling like roses.

Can a negative review reflect badly on the reviewer? It certainly can. Businesses can clap back too. Here are my thoughts:

Facebook: Last shameful plug for my fourth and final blog for my Algonquin Intro to Social Media course. Btw, I loved this course even though there was a lot of work involved!! Shout out to Alexandra, who is a really great prof!

Twitter: Read my blog: Negative reviews can reflect badly on the reviewer, true story: Clapping Back on Negative Reviews

World leaders on Social Media: Helping or Hindering?

Barack Obama the first Social Media President 

After Barack Obama was first elected President of the United States in 2008, he stopped using his personal Twitter handle. Okay, his team stopped posting on his personal Twitter account, and eventually, in 2015, President Obama (the White House social media team) launched his inaugural tweet on @POTUS. Obama is also known as having mastered and transformed the use of social media in political campaigns. Credited as the first “social media” president, Obama started engaging on social initially to raise funds, mobilize volunteering, and get out the vote first to upset Hilary Clinton, and then John McCain, during the 2008 presidential campaign. 

Photo: Charles Ommanney/Getty
Photo: from Daily News

As the New York Times article “How Obama tapped into Social Networks Power” stated in 2008, Obama did not re-invent the wheel – he and his team just created this force using the muscle of social networking to reach audiences, invigorate the electorate and engage people to cast their vote, as is their democratic right. In hindsight, much of Obama’s evolution, on many policies, programs and social media presence, has been largely positive. His presence on Twitter, galvanized America, to engage, to care, to want to reach out and make a statement, to be heard. He rallied people together, and he was diplomatic, self-deprecating and caring, during his presidency as well as during the campaign to return to the White House.

Taken from YouTube: “The Choice” – Obama for America TV ad, 2012
President Donald Trump: A Twitterati?

By contrast, fast forward to 2017. Unless you have been living under a social media rock, you will know, that President Trump is actively engaging on two Twitter accounts, his personal one, and the POTUS one. Okay, his White House team is engaging on the POTUS account. But guess which one has more followers? If you guessed his personal one, you would be correct. So, my question is this: why does President Trump get to keep his personal account, and President Obama did not? My answer may not be factually precise, but here it is: because President Obama’s administration had more integrity for transparency and accountability than President Trump’s, plain and simple. To me, Obama had more deference for his position, than Trump does now. The larger question however, is this: does Trump engaging on his own personal account detract and distract from his job, the one Americans elected him to do? I believe it does. There is not one day that has gone by without several tweets from him, that outrage, and cause the world to furrow their collective eyebrows in horror, dismay, and/or comic rage/relief. Love him, or hate him, The Donald is seeking and getting our attention, big time. On this, he is supremely successful.

From: Donald J. Trump Twitter profile page:
Make America the Center of Attention, Again (MACAA)

Donald Trump is a narcissist and narcissists feed off of attention, good, bad or indifferent. To answer my own question, Trump as POTUS, engaging on his own social media network of choice, Twitter, is both helping and hindering the cause of putting America first. 

From: University of South Australia,

America is usually first in all things: the land of the free, and home of THE brave, the country where many cities never sleep (NYC, Las Vegas). America is arguably the world’s most dominant economic and military power. Likewise, its cultural imprint spans the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television. Thus, Trump tweeting up to 36 times a day, further places America, and by extension, the Oval Office, at the top of what is trending. He must love that.

At the same time, the term “Ugly American” can also be said of Trump’s incessant posts related to all things negative. According to the New York Times, when Trump took office back in 2017, in his first 100 days, these were the following 10 themes of the type of tweets he launched:

• Undermining Obama (15 tweets)

• Raising Alarm (40)

• Pressuring Congress (24)

• Discrediting the Media (41)

• Bullying Foreign Leaders (25)

• Singling Out Companies (12)

• Serving as Spin (101)

• Creating Drama and Excitement (38)

• Promoting the Administration (31)

• Making America Great Again (169)

(From: “Cataloguing Every Tweet by the President in his first 100 Days” )

Of the 10 themes listed above, we can say perhaps that the last 3 themes were somewhat positive. So that leaves us with at least 70% of Twitter posts that were negative in nature, and as such, this would indicate that for this reason, Donald Trump being on Twitter, was in fact, hindering. Hindering the good name of the office of the President of the United States and thwarting the efforts of many other people who want to unite all Americans at the end of the 2010s. As we head into a new decade, it is safe to say, that the current administration is doing its fair share of polarizing Americans. Many of Trump’s critics feel that he has undone much of the positive domestic and diplomatic progress his predecessor made during his two terms as President. Additionally, it is also fair to say that Trump’s Twitter activity affects civil society adversely. According to the Brookings Institution, a research think-tank devoted to research, analysis, education, and publication focused on public policy issues, it believes that Trump’s daily tweeting has alienated Americans more than united them, especially those who oppose his policies and sentiments. (From: How the President’s Twitter account affects Civil Society: )

The danger or hindrance in Trump’s Twitter tirades, is that he continues to use his personal social media account to publicly deride and complain about private enterprises that he objects to, or to grandstand and brag about how smart he is. As a sitting president, this is not normal, nor is it acceptable behaviour. 

To many, it appears as though President Trump is out of control, unleashing his personal gripes without any oversight from the White House. However, it is also highly possible, that his personal tweeting is part of a larger strategy crafted by his own White House team, that feeds into the larger, broader policies, programs and services that will ultimately be his legacy when he leaves office. 

What do you think about Trump and his social media habits? Is this the rantings of a deranged and out-of-touch leader, living in his own, egotistical bubble of ‘alternate facts’? Or is this ultimately another strategy by his team to feed into their larger agenda? Oh, and is it Making America Great Again?

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The Secret Fear of this Blogger- blog 2

I have to be honest: I have never been a very confident writer. True, I write for a living now, and I also journaled when I was younger, but those entries were incoherent ramblings of a naïve and troubled soul, not for the world to see and judge. My, how times have changed.

Social media blogging and posting are the new “journaling” of the 21stcentury. I recognize fully that blogging is not meant to be private – its sole purpose screams, “READ ME!” “COMMENT!” “LIKE ME!”, “FIND ME RELEVANT”. Rather than keeping things to ourselves, blogging and posting our innermost thoughts and experiences are what keeps people connected. Even my cousin, the most quiet and introverted person in my family, is the most prolific blogger I know. She is constantly blogging and on social media. She doesn’t talk much at family gatherings; if you want to know how she feels, follow her on Instagram, subscribe to her blog

I think my cousin is very courageous to blog about the things she is worried about, that she can be so candid in her writing. I would have problems being that open and publishing it for the world to read. For me, I have a secret fear, the same fear that Lesley J. Vos writes about in How To Deal With The Secret Fear Of Every Blogger( I fear that what I have to say is not worth sharing with others. It is that fear of comparing myself to other bloggers (even in this course) and believing that my writing would not convey anyhing useful or relevant, to even one person. 

I must admit that I had anxiety taking this course – what if nothing I wrote had any relevance or interest to others? That would be as some would say today, an “epic fail”!

So, what is the point of this blog? Well, this blog is an attempt to corral myself out of the basin of fear, and into the pool of possibility and positivity. In Lesley’s afore-mentioned blog, she mentions several points, and here are my main take aways:

  • Accept that blogging is a risk and move on. Everything we do on a daily basis is a risk, and blogging is just one other one. It’s a huge one, as it can be tied to your feelings, your business or values, but if you don’t take action, you will be stuck in the same place.
  • Ask for help – learn from mistakes. This is why I took this course, to learn from professionals on how to do better and how to succeed using social media. Making mistakes is one way of learning how to do better – as Roosevelt said, “the only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.”
  • Do what you fear.This is much easier said than done, but then again, if fear stops us from action, then we have already failed. So, why not just write, blog, post those thoughts, that information or content that you are passionate about, that you find interesting and helpful. Chances are, others will find it helpful and interesting too.

References: Lesley J. Vos, 2019, How To Deal With The Secret Fear Of Every Blogger 

The Healing power of Art

People are visual beings. According to branding expert Ernesto Olivares, we are 90% visual beings. While animals like dogs and cats use their sense of smell, and bats have a heightened sense of hearing, people are undeniably visually stimulated. Research from 3M Corporation tells us that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals catch your eye, grab and sustain your attention more so than text ever can, at a speed and rate that text cannot match. HubSpot social media scientist Dan Zarrella found that tweets with visuals are more likely to be retweeted 94% more than tweets without visuals. This is a statistic I have known for a long time, and not because I work in the field of  advertising/marketing. Here below is a famous advertisement from the 1930s advertising agency, Young and Rubicam. It is a classic example of how a visual can affect the way we feel and think.

From Young and Rubicam Inc., July 1930, Public Domain

Also, when I think of the magazine National Geographic, I visualize the iconic photo of Afghan refugee, Sharbat Gula, captured by photographer Steve McCurry. It remains a powerful image etched in my and the collective world’s memories.

Afghan girl, Steve McCurry, National Geographic, 1985

Donghwy An and Nara Youn of South Korea’s Hongik University write that “appreciating art induces inspiration, which in turn facilitates performance on creative tasks.” Their research show that simply displaying art in the work environment could enhance and intensify employees’ creative capabilities.

This research is no doubt part of an increasing amount of scientific evidence that has proven that visual art enhances brain function. It has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can actually raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world.

For me, looking at photos and artwork put my mind at ease. This could be the reason why I have loved going to art galleries around the world while on vacation. Whenever I go to London, I always visit the Tate Modern, and the British Museum. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to spend my birthday in New York City, where I visited the Guggenheim, The Met and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It was a dream come true, and a bucket item I could tick off my list! When I spend time with art, I feel uplifted, inspired and transported to another time and place, and my momentary worries dissipate. Even if for just 5 minutes. Looking at art is for me, a healing balm in a sea of daily monotony and anxiety.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night 1889 at MOMA
Claude Monet, Water Lilies 1914-26 – at MOMA
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 at MOMA

On social media, I read posts that include a story with an image, or just a hashtag with a video. I find that as a hobbyist photographer, I love Instagram for the window it opens for me, to view other photographers’ work and to admire the creativity in art; in fact, it downright inspires and motivates me. When I am having a bad day, I spend time scrolling Instagram and being motivated by countless photos of food, landscapes, fashion and art, lifts me right out of the doldrums. Many times, posts don’t need words. Visual art speaks to me like no other medium can. I don’t have to process text, dialogue, nor lyrics. I don’t have to concentrate on the meaning behind the words, or the scene. I just have to stare at it, for possibly just seconds, and I feel its emotions, and connect with its message. That is the healing power of art and the visual medium.


Ernesto Oliveras (January, 2013). We are 90% visual beings. Retrieved from

Rachel Gillett (September 18, 2014). Why We’re More Likely To Remember Content With Images And Video (Infographic). Retrieved from

Image of Afghan girl, Sharbat Gula. Steve McCurry, National Geographic, June 1985. Retrieved from:

Scott Martin (July 10, 2017). Attention Grabbers: 5 Essentials to Make your Marketing stand out. Retrieved from

Tom Jacobs (November 23, 2017). Exposure to art inspires creativity at the office. Retrieved from

Renée Phillips (May 13, 2019). Art Enhances Brain Function and Well-Being. Retrieved from

All other images of art from MOMA, taken by MKwok003.