Keeping Positive in a Negative World: Understanding and tracking negative feedback in Facebook

by | Jul 2, 2018

Let’s talk about negative feedback. Facebook tracks negative feedback for you in Facebook Insights under the “Reach” section of the navigation. The following is a screenshot of our Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement Facebook Page from last week. I have circled the places you need to look for when searching for this in your page’s Insights.


Negative feedback is when someone choses to hide your post, hide all of your posts, report your post as spam, or unlike your page. You can see these options in the above screenshot on the right side.

All of these actions lower your engagement or lower your followers. But, as you’re reviewing your negative feedback remember these three tips we have developed to guide you:

  1. Not all losses of likes are bad. This could represent someone who isn’t really a member of your target audience. There could be personal reasons that are not associated with your business or content. The negative feedback could represent a person who lost their job and is now working in a different industry unrelated to your business. It could also represent someone who followed your business without knowing what you do or someone who won’t ever purchase your product, so in all these cases – “good riddance!” You are free from people who were not meeting your needs the same as you were not meeting theirs. Focus on the people who want your content and like what you do. These are your true fans!
  2. Success attracts negative reactions from some people. It is hard not to take it personally, but there is a correlation between your posts that receive the most engagement and the posts that receive the most negative feedback. In the screenshot above, you will notice one person chose to hide all of our posts on June 1, 2018. This was a day where we posted about how to schedule your own writing retreat.  The screenshot below is from our list of posts for the week where one person chose to unfollow all of our posts. I have circled the middle post, which was posted the day where we had the negative feedback. You will notice that this post had our highest reach that week with 145 people reached. ContentPostHighlighted

The other thing different about this post is that it included a slideshow of pictures. This would have been prioritized in peoples’ newsfeed because of Facebook’s algorithm. Because of this, people who checked their newsfeed multiple times that day may have seen the post multiple times, which could have been irritating to the individual who chose not to follow our posts.

Thus, a positive way to look at negative feedback is that you are doing a really good job at getting reach and engagement! The old adage holds true online too “it is lonely at the top”!

3. Listen to overwhelming negative feedback. This may sound like the opposite of number 2, but let me explain. While some negative feedback is expected when your posts are getting a large reach and a lot of engagement, if you are consistently getting negative feedback pay attention to what is happening. Look at patterns related to content type for negative feedback. If every time you post a picture of a cat to your business page you get a lot of negative feedback and little reach or engagement, then your audience is trying to tell you they don’t like cats. Listen to them!

You should also pay attention to who is giving you negative feedback. If you are losing followers from a specific demographic or specific area, there may be a way in which you’re not meeting their needs. If these are members of your primary target audience This is a bit more complicated, because Facebook doesn’t tell you this information directly. However, you can figure this information out on your own through a little investigation.

The first place to look is under your Insights in Facebook, then click on people in the left navigation. You will see where you can see your fans, followers, or people reached. This is reported by demographics. Because of Facebook’s new privacy settings, you cannot download this data, so you will need to keep track of this information regularly to compare and see if you are loosing fans, followers, or people reach in a certain demographic area or a specific gender. I would suggest checking this information weekly and loading it into an Excel spreadsheet. Then, each week you can check in quickly and enter your weekly numbers to compare from previous weeks. In this way, you can track growth or decline in specific demographics.


To track specific people is even harder, but not impossible. On your Facebook page go to settings and select “people and other pages” from the left navigation. You will see a dropdown menu where you can view people who like your page, follow your page, pages that like your page, or those you have banned from your page. These are listed in order of when they liked your page from most recent to earliest.

People and Pages Screenshot.jpg

Facebook no longer allows you to download this data, but you can select all and then right click and select copy. Then, you can paste this data into an Excel file. This may be cumbersome at first depending on how many fans you have as the data needs a little cleaning with some of the images being jumbled. But, once you have the initial file created, you can create a new column with each group for each week adjacent to the previous week’s column. You can reorder the fans alphabetically if this is easier for you to compare. If you have a lot of fans, or you want to save time, you can use formulas in Excel to compare differences in columns. You can see details on how to do this here.

I would not advise obsessing over this task, but like all of your analytics it can be useful to track these over time to see patterns in those who give you negative feedback. This information could be valuable in improving your content and page health!