One of the things that concerns my clients raise as they’re diving into social media for the first time is the potential for criticism or negative responses to the things they’ve posted. What I tell them is twofold:
1. I’ve been training people to use blogs and social media since 2006, and I’ve only had one client report any critical comments on his blog, so it shouldn’t be a huge worry.
2. The protocol I’d recommend is to publicly respond to any criticism or negativity in a fair and kind manner.
For the most part, when someone leaves you a critical or negative response, they’re trying to put you on the spot. A lot of the time, the other people following you will rise to your defense and join you in responding, but even if you’re alone in handling the criticism, an open and thoughtful response from you will go a long way towards turning their comment into a friendly dialogue and towards making you seem approachable and human to the rest of your readers or followers.
Imagine an exchange on the sideline of a children’s soccer game– if an angry parent tries to engage the ref over a disputed call, what would you like to see the ref do to defuse the situation and regain control and calm? Be that referee!
The one exception to this rule is vulgar or inflammatory remarks from others. Your space online is YOUR space, and if someone is obviously there to cause a problem, you’re not obliged to allow that. You can delete their comment, report them to the social media site, and block them from future actions in your space.
If you’ve dealt with negativity or criticism in your online space, I’d love to hear about what you did in the comments!