#18: Responding to Critics

Criticism is far worse online. It flows stronger, faster and sharper on Facebook Fanpages, blogs, Twitter and YouTube. And anyone can comment without using their real identity – that supposed swimsuit model might actually be a beer-grubbing obese male.

But they are part and parcel of publishing content online. For many of them, their heart’s in the right place as they want to point outflaws and express their own ideas.

The question then; how to handle and respond to critics?

Firstly, Cool Off

Getting a critical comment can raise panic and righteous anger. It’s natural. But this heightened emotional state makes it hard to be objective and respond reasonably. After all, angry arguments never got anyone anywhere.

So take a walk, close the screen, do whatever you need to do to cool off.

Once you’re more composed, then you can start to craft a response.


The Response

So why are you getting a critical comment?

Try to see it from their point of view – perhaps it’s a simple misunderstanding, or a perceived attack on their values, or a genuine I-really-don’t-think-you’re-right statement. Always take the time and effort to understand what they’re really saying. After all, you don’t want to answer the wrong question.

Once you’re done, craft your response:

  1. Acknowledge their right to complain
  2. Keep it conversational, human and simple
    Every Dot Connects’ Babblesoft case study has a great set of response guidelines:

    …Stick to the facts and be honest. Drop the marketing speak and talk like a normal human being. Do not engage in name calling or ad hominem attacks.

    From Babblesoft case study

    Nestle’s handling of their fans’ comments is an example of what not to do.

  3. If you’re in the wrong, please apologise and mean it.


Follow Up

A couple of useful things:

  1. Do not make a promise and leave them hanging. In fact, you should always try to fulfil it within 24 hours.
  2. Do a search and see if anyone else has similar criticisms about your work. If there are, gently engage them using the above pointers and keep an eye out on what they’re saying.

These three steps should point you in the right direction when engaging with your detractors and critics. Regardless of how angry you are or unjust the criticism, always remember to be nice.


A day, a tip | 100 days, 100 useful content tips

Tip categories: Create, Source, The Truth, Spread & Be Nice.
Got an idea, opinion or critique?
Please share it with me @ContentTicks.


Credits: Featured image from lism

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