What’s the hardest piece of negative feedback you’ve ever received on social media?
If you’re building an online community, I’m sure you have more than one story to tell. We all do.
Getting negative, positive, and critical feedback is the easy part.
What’s hard is knowing when to respond, if you should respond, and how to respond.
Let’s talk about it in today’s episode so you can face your fear of the comment section, communicate with your audience in a way that keeps your mental health intact, and grow an online community that loves to engage with you in the comments section.
In this episode of the podcast, I talk about:
- An inspiring yawn
- Parasocial relationships
- Auditing your relationships on social
- Categorizing negative feedback
- The wrong way to respond to negative comments
- Cancel culture stickiness
- Prioritizing your mental health
- The positive potential of online communities
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- “The larger your community, the greater chances there are of someone leaving a negative comment on social media or even responding to an email in your inbox, or even posting publicly negatively about your company.” – Andréa Jones
- “In 2023, at the time of recording this, parasocial relationships are those opportunities where these semi-influential people online create audiences of people where they don't necessarily know the individuals in the audience. And there's an imbalance in the give and take in that relationship.” – Andréa Jones
- “On that scale between soft and strong or harmful is the concept of criticism. So is there an actual critique here that you can implement, or do you care to implement? So consider that as you're going through categorizing your negative feedback.” – Andréa Jones
- “I tend to go more kill them with kindness. So that's my approach. You decide what's on brand for you. Are you more on the side of kill them with kindness? Are you more on the side of humor?” – Andréa Jones
- “When you listen to your community, you create stronger bonds with the people who are kind of putting themselves out there and giving you that criticism.” – Andréa Jones
- “When you have a strong, harmful negative reaction online, people are saying you should be canceled. It is important to address it. I personally think you don't need to address it right away. I would say within 48 hours of the incident, you should address it. You don't need to apologize right away. In fact, you don't need to apologize ever, if you don't truly feel sorry. Okay?” – Andréa Jones
- “You can block anyone you want. There are no rules. You get to decide. Block as many people as your heart desires.” – Andréa Jones
Watch the Episode Below:
Andréa Jones (00:01):
That moment when someone comments on your social media post and it's not great doesn't feel great, and you're not sure how to respond. Well, today I'm gonna dive into how to deal with negative feedback on social media. When do you respond? When do you block and delete? Let's get into it.
Welcome to The Savvy Social Podcast, the show that blends stories and strategies to help businesses create engaged and profitable online communities using the unique power of social media. And now, your host, Andréa Jones.
Andréa Jones (00:51):
So the inspiration for this episode came from a comment that I saw on social media, not on my post specifically, but on someone else's post. And the comment just said, yawn. Like yawn. Implying that this content was so boring or uninteresting, that this person was literally falling asleep. And so I wanted to talk about how to deal with this on social media, because that's not really, it's not like a detrimental comment, but it doesn't, it doesn't feel great. And we all have comments like these on social media where people say things and it doesn't feel good. And as you're building your online communities, which I know you all are doing because you're listening to this podcast, the larger your community comes, the greater chances there are of someone leaving a negative comment on social media or even responding to an email in your inbox, or even posting publicly negatively about your company.
It's just the way that it works. And I think with the faceless nature of some social media platforms specifically platforms like YouTube comments or TikTok comments, people create accounts that are really just for consuming and commenting. They're not content creators themselves. And so because they feel empowered, because their personal brand isn't really attached to the comments that they leave comments that you wouldn't say to someone in real life, at least I wouldn't. So to me, like if I were at a standup comedy show and I didn't like the comedian who was doing their thing, I wouldn't go yawn. Some people would. And those are the people who we see on social media. Most of the other people in the room are not the ones shouting, yawn in the audience or Boo you suck, right? Like, that's a very specific kind of person. So in this episode, I'm gonna talk about how to deal with that person but also the people who have like actual critical feedback.
So how do we deal with that? And then how do we deal with the people who are just trying to burn the world down? One of the comments that I got on YouTube one time that had the most effect on me was it said, go kill yourself. And I was like, oh, that ruined my whole day. Thank you. And so with how do we deal with that? But before we get into the tactics of how to deal with negative comments, I gotta talk about the psychological impact of these negative comments. Because when we put ourselves online, our, the people who are consuming our content have varying levels of parasocial relationships with us. Okay? So I've talked about this before on the podcast, but I just wanna share a little bit of a definition of what a parasocial relationship is. So this is an article from everyday health.com, and it defines a parasocial relationship as a one-sided relationship formed when one party extends energy in interest and time and the other person doesn't know they exist.
Okay? So this terminology first came around in 1956 where two researchers were looking at relationships between our celebrities think, you know, TV hosts, broadcast hosts, think Marilyn Monroe type character, right? And movie stars. So it was a relationship between like movie stars and broadcast hosts and the people consuming their content and why people say, you know, I trust this person. I trust the weatherman. I trust, you know, the news anchor. I trust Marilyn Monroe. And it's because of these parasocial relationships. So, and today, in 2023, at the time of recording this, parasocial relationships are those opportunities where these semi influential people online create audiences of people where they don't necessarily know the individuals in the audience. And there's an imbalance in the give and take in that relationship. So typically it's like an online celebrity who has a lot of followers or community members, and then the people in the community create a sense of obligation with that person.
So they feel a sense of entitlement because that person's producing content. And as the follower, the community member, they feel like they have a say in what the future of that content looks like. It is a one-sided relationship because it not reciprocal. Typically, however, with social media, that line is becoming even blurrier between what's reciprocal, because if someone leaves a comment now on social media, we have the opportunity to respond. We have the opportunity to communicate back, or is that television host or the TV star, the movie star from, you know, the 1960s? They're not really getting responses. Maybe people write letters to them, perhaps, but they're not getting that instantaneous response that we get here. And now because of social media. Now listen, we all have like, role models that we look up to. I'm not talking about the people that you admire on social media, and I don't want you to feel bad if you have parasocial relationships.
So for one of mine, for instance, is Myleik Teele. She is the creator of curlBOX. Pretty sure she doesn't know I exist, but I so admire her. I listen to her podcast probably since like 2015, 2016, when it was active. I'm in her community. I paid to be in her community. I pay for like the subscription on Instagram to get her like behind the scenes stuff because I really admire her work. I like how she built her business. And then now that she has kids, I like how she talks about life with kids. Okay? So that is one parasocial relationship I have. I don't think that that one is unhealthy because I don't have expectations of my leak. Like I'm not commenting yawn on her content if I don't particularly enjoy that piece of content. I'm doing what most reasonable rational people do, which is if I don't like something, I skip it, I consume something else.
And so I want you to audit a little bit, your own relationships. Are they healthy? Are they unhealthy? And when it starts teetering into unhealthy is when people start to prioritize these idols and put them above real relationships. They're not going out in the world. This is where we get like keyboard warriors. This is where we get, you know other terms online where people just stay inside and their entire life is built on social media and then they feel obligated or they feel like the people that they follow have a sense of obligation to them because of their pseudo relationship, but they don't realize that is very one-sided. Okay? So with that in mind, I wanna talk about categorizing negative feedback, because not all feedback is the same. Like I said, the comment that where someone says yawn it yes hurts, but it's not on the same level as go kill yourself, in my opinion.
So there are two different types of negative comments. I consider them soft and strong. So the soft negative comment is someone who is just saying, Jan, the strong negative comment, or even the harmful negative comment on that end of this scale is it could be belligerent, racist it's just out of line. Okay? So there is a distinction there. And I also on that scale between soft and strong or harmful, is the concept of criticism. So is there an actual critique here that you can implement or do you care to implement? So consider that as you're going through categorizing your negative feedback. All right, we're gonna take a quick break. When we come back, I'm gonna talk about how to deal with soft negative comments and how to deal with harmful negative comments.
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And we're back. So a soft negative comment, someone says, yawn, someone says you know, I didn't really care for this. Someone even just like says, I disagree because of X, Y, Z. It's not necessarily harmful to you or your community. So keep that in mind. But it is something that you may wanna respond to. So the first step, if you get one of these soft negative comments is to read and understand the comment for what it is. I think sometimes we have a strong emotional reaction. This is just a human thing right off the bat. We go, oh, you are terrible too. I hate you <laugh>. We have the tendency to escalate comments. So if someone says yawn, we tend to escalate and go, yeah, well, your mom is terrible, whatever, <laugh>. So we tend to escalate as human nature.
Like that's just how we're built. And so the best thing is to pause, give it space. I don't recommend trying to respond immediately right away. Give yourself time to actually process the comment forward. It, it is instead of reacting in the heat of the moment. Now there are some strategies to this as well. I mentioned like, your mom is terrible, okay? So you respond with humor. I find that some people do this really well. So Bushra Azhar, who I absolutely love, fantastic copywriting extraordinaire claps back in her negative comments. And I live for that type of humor. It's funny because she approaches it with humor and it it's on brand for her. Now, if I were to do that, it's not on brand for me. I'm not like a comedian, <laugh> a comedian. And even though I think I'm freaking hilarious, I just don't think it would have the same energy, right?
It would come off as it would come off differently. It just not, it's not a fit for me. So I tend to go more kill them with kindness. So that's my approach. You decide what's on brand for you. Are you more on the side of kill them with kindness? Are you more on the side of humor? I think that though responding is helpful. Not for that person specifically, but for everyone else reading the comments, right? So when you respond, it's for those looky-loos in the comments. I'm one of those. If I see a post I'm headed straight to the comments, okay? So I do like to respond. And depending on the size of your audience, I do recommend responding. Your audience does reach a certain point where responding to every comment can be challenging. Or if you have a post that has taken off, it's had its viral moment or even its mini viral moment, sometimes responding to every single comment is not possible.
But if you don't have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of comments, try to respond to all of them, even the ones that are softly negative. Okay? Your last option here is ignoring the comment. I, if someone just commented, yawn on my post, I personally would just ignore it. I think in the back of my mind, I wanna be like that witty, humorous person, <laugh>. I would just ignore their comment and then complain about it to all of my friends. And I actually posted this on my Facebook page and two people commented and said they would do something similar. And so I feel like I'm definitely not alone in this. You know, like I'm not the only one who's like, Hey, be nice on the internet. Yeah. So we all, we all have this. I think these soft negative comments could also be an opportunity for reflective moments and to see if it's an actual criticism that you want to implement.
So an example is having a comment on a video that says you should have captions, closed captioning in your videos, right? So it's, it is feedback. It's not positive feedback, but it is feedback. And so as a business owner, it's moments like those where you go, do I need closed captions in my videos? Is this something that I wanna examine? And when I get feedback like that, I simply say, thank you for giving me this feedback, and I'm going to examine if this is something that I wanna implement in my business. But I appreciate feedback like this, and I always wanna hear feedback like this, okay? And especially if you are a micro business owner or you don't have, you know, audience of over a hundred thousand followers, this sort of feedback can be really helpful to building a community.
When you listen to your community, you create stronger bonds with the people who are kind of putting themselves out there and, and giving you that criticism. But not all feedback is good. Gotta talk about that strong feedback or the very harmful feedback, the kind of feedback where people are trying to tear you down actively. And I see this happening a lot with cancel culture. And personally I'm not a fan of it, okay? And professionally, I'm not a fan of it. I think it's a very dangerous place to be when we slip away from calling someone out and we slip towards canceling someone. So calling someone out is a very strong piece of criticism. And I do think before someone's called out publicly, there should be an attempt to call them out privately, okay? So for example, if you are a member of someone's community, I do think as a community member, it is acceptable to reach out to the community leader and say, Hey, here's a behavior I notice that I don't agree with.
Now, if they give you a response that brushes you off, or if you feel strongly enough about it, yes, you can call them out publicly as well and say, Hey, here's a community leader. I gave them my concerns. I did not like their response, and here's why I'm no longer associating with this person. Okay? So I do think there are levels to this. It's very nuanced, and I think in cancel culture, we completely miss nuance and we completely miss the opportunity for someone to change, which is why I recommend those steps. Now, canceling someone, in my opinion, there's a very rare, very, very rare moments where someone truly needs to be canceled. So according to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary, they define canceling as to stop giving support to that person. And the act of canceling could entail boycotting things like it's an actor their movie, or no longer promoting like an author.
However, the social media term canceled goes beyond a personal decision to not support that person and starts bringing other people in and saying, I'm canceling that. I'm, you know, choosing to cancel this person. Everyone else should as well. And if you don't, it's gonna reflect negatively on you too, okay? And I think there's an assumption that people are gonna change their mind and make the same decision that you did at the moment that you make your decision. But that's not how humans work. You know, if you decide to cancel someone today, okay? And Merriam-Webster means you stop supporting that person, that doesn't mean everyone around you is also gonna start deciding to cancel that person today. You know, it could take them some time to come to that same conclusion, or you may change your mind. That person may have a redemption arc.
And I think this is where cancel culture gets a little bit sticky. But if you are getting canceled, okay? So if you are getting obscene amount of negative feedback online, the first thing I recommend is again to pause. Okay? This is really, really tough, especially when people are ganging up on you. They're bullying you basically online. This is a, a tough spot to be in. So take a break, call on your friends, your closest people, your emotional support, get your therapist involved, get your coach involved, call your mom. Whatever it is you need to do to get emotionally supported as you initially have that hit, okay? That hit of negativity. The second thing I recommend is if you have a team, get your team involved as well. If you have PR, social media marketing business strategy, like anyone on your team who you can get involved because you basically now are having the same parasocial reaction that celebrities used to have when they get negative press, you are getting negative press.
It just happens to be online. So getting support for how to respond is helpful. If you don't have a team, what I do recommend is crafting a thoughtful response and not apologizing for the sake of apologizing, okay? And this is only a, if you're getting criticized, not if someone says go kill yourself. We'll talk about that in a minute. But when you have a strong, harmful negative reaction online, people are saying you should be canceled. It is important to address it. I personally think you don't need to address it right away. I would say within 48 hours of the incident you should address it. You don't need to apologize right away. In fact, you don't need to apologize ever if you don't truly feel sorry. Okay? So how are you addressing it? I think it is important to say, Hey, here's what's happening. You know, let's say you created a course and it uses indigenous terminology that you didn't recognize, like tribe for instance, and you had that in the title.
It's all in the course, and people are calling you out online and it's ha and very negatively saying you should be canceled. And I'm just making this up hypothetical situation, okay? So I would acknowledge, hey, this is what happened. I use this term in this course, and I'm getting so much feedback right now that this is harmful to my community. I hear you and I'm taking some time to understand and to take my next steps. Thank you to everyone who have called me out. And then I would give an action item. I'm closing comments for the time being in order to protect my peace during this time. Okay? That's how I would approach that situation. It's not necessarily apologizing just yet, because if you are in that, that spot, you may need time to figure out what you're even apologizing for. Don't just say I'm sorry, okay, but it's acknowledging the situation and it's giving an action item.
Here's what I'm doing and here's what I expect from my community to do. Okay? You don't wanna turn off comments. You can also say comments will be on, but I won't be checking them at this time. Comments will be on, but my team will be checking them at this time. You know, having your audience understand what's happening is helpful, and then stop posting. Give yourself a break. Take some time to figure it out. Okay? So if it's a massive, strong, harmful, negative, critical piece of feedback, that's what I recommend. Now, if it's strong piece of feedback that's belligerent, so someone is saying something that's offensive, that's racist, that's physically, emotionally harmful, block that person, delete the comment, move on with your life, okay? <Laugh>, and honestly, you can block anyone you want. There are no rules. There are no rules. You get to decide. Block as many people as your heart desires.
And I have a few clients who do this quite regularly. They'll block people. Block them, and on Facebook you can set it so that their comment is hidden. Even they see it, you can hide it so that no one else sees it. Only their friends see it. So there's so many different levels that you can take to this. I even, there are some people who you can restrict their account so they can't comment, they can't send you a DM that they can see your content still. So depending on the scale, you can set your boundaries and prioritize your mental health. Because at the end of the day, I know that we're building online communities here and we want our communities to feel like a positive, supportive, creative, generous space. But we can't control other people's actions. We can't control how they feel, think how they behave.
And so you as a community leader need to set those boundaries so your community knows how to behave when they're in your space. And when you're creating content and they're posting on your account, they're coming into your space. And what you'll see happen too, as your community grows, is yes, you get an increase in negative comments, but you also get an increase in positive comments. You get an increase in your community members standing up for you. You get an increase in your community members being the clap back for you being, the humor for you being the kill 'em with kindness for you, right? And those are also such magical, magical moments that really make social media powerful, powerful tool. And it's why I love online community building because of the positive potential, despite the negative potential as well.
So are you getting soft, negative comments or strong negative comments on social media? I'd love to know what stories you have. Head on over to my Instagram, send me a DM. I love a good voice message, by the way. I love it. But I wanna hear some stories of like, negative comments you've gotten wild comments you've gotten. I just wanna feel like I'm not alone in this and maybe I'll share some of them in an upcoming episode. You can find me on Instagram at onlinedrea. That's all for today. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.