There it is, staring you in the face. Your palm maybe gets a little sweaty against the back of your phone. You re-read the message several times over. Your ego is itching to plow through all of your social and professional filters and drive your fingers to pound out a response so beautifully nasty that you might not want your grandmother to read it. But you don’t. You just read it again and a small lump forms in your throat.
Negative social media comments suck. They sting in more ways than one and unfortunately the Internet is full of quick-to-react people that just love to set a small fire to your messaging campaign and watch you put it out. And whether the person writing a comment knows it or not, that story, that design, that message – they were the result of your passion and expertise focused in one direction. So when you want to take a virtual stab at them, who could blame you? Yet we all know that we shouldn’t and we ultimately won’t. But how do we cope?
There are LOTS of best practices for dealing with negativity in social media feeds like – don’t add fuel to the fire by arguing with them, don’t delete their comments (unless they are profane, violent, etc), respond respectfully and on and on. That’s great advice but ultimately it doesn’t help you make those comments useful to you while framing them in a way that makes it easier to just read them without raising your blood pressure So, I thought I would give you a process we take here at The Story Shop to cope with naysayers and find ways to put their comments to work for us – not against us.
Number One: “Yay! We’re getting through to them.”
“Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve elevated yourself above the noise.” There is so much message clutter in today’s world that getting any comment means someone is listening. Of course you are shooting for overwhelming positive reactions but having the occasional dissenting opinion or reaction to your message means that something about it was engaging enough for a person that disagrees to interact. Don’t just write that off because…
Number Two: “Hmm, we didn’t know that.”
You know that saying, “You’re preaching to the choir”? Hearing ONLY positive feedback gives you an unrealistic view of your message and it’s ability to convert followers. Storytelling and messaging can and should absolutely be used to motivate your fans to action, but its also important to gain new people right? The occasional negative comment gives you the opportunity to see how your message is being received by those that haven’t bought in yet. This glimpse into another perspective is powerful because…
Number Three: “Okay, maybe we can tweak”
In certain cases, a negative comment can give you the opportunity to change course. This isn’t to say that you should automatically change a message because someone doesn’t like it. Yet, it does give you the chance to reevaluate from a more informed position. A course correction might not be in order but knowing how the message is hitting a certain group of people can be invaluable – especially when those folks aren’t your cheerleaders. When a course correction is necessary you can do it with knowledge that it will matter. (We once stopped an Instagram ad because of a few annoyed negative comments that it was playing too frequently. We adjusted the audience and changed the budget to pull back the frequency for targeted groups. The ad performed better and we learned something.)
Truth be told, it’s often the painful moments in life that teach us the most. The same can be said for those hurtful comments on social media. While you could print out their profile picture for your dart board, learning from them is probably a better use of your time and will make you a better storyteller. Of course, the dart board approach could be therapeutic too. Hell do both.