Learning From Social Media Criticism
I sat down to my laptop with coffee on Saturday morning to find some criticism via Twitter. A friend of Inbound Marketing Agents shared a link to our content Are You Ready for the Social Media Bubble to Burst? and received some less than kind words in response. I've chosen to obscure Twitter handles and profile pictures, but the conversation went as follows:
Any writer who says they love hearing negative feedback about their work is lying. Unfortunately, responding to criticism is part of the job. I issued this statement in response:
What's a business to do when it comes to responding to criticism? As tempting as it may be to be a little snarky in response, it's not the right approach. You should be polite and avoid embarrassing your brand by making charged statements. Here are some tips I've learned about responding to criticism:
1. Be Nice
Remember that glowing newspaper review of Olive Garden by an elderly North Dakota columnist that went viral back in March? Over 200,000 page views, she received a lot of feedback. Some of it wasn't very nice at all. The journalist responded to her critics with a polite stance, even issuing sincere thanks in response to one comment that she was pathetic. Negative feedback on social media is an unfortunate reality, and it's the perfect time to display your customer service skills.
2. Don't Step Down
If you write some controversial content, don't use the hours following to take a social media vacation. You should engage in discussion and respond to questions. Let your critics know that you've seen their Tweet and appreciate the dialogue. That being said, if you've made a critical error, it isn't the time to stand by your work. Responding to criticism means that sometimes you need to own your mistakes. Admit the error, apologize and move on.
3. Think Critically.
The worst part about critics is that sometimes they're right. Responding to criticism doesn't just mean issuing some polite tweets. Responding to criticism requires taking a long, hard look at your work and figuring out if you can learn from the feedback. In the case of the social media bubble article, I stand by our decision to use a short pithy title. Writing a title along the lines of Facebook's Stock Isn't Doing Well, But Social Media as a Tool for Communication and Business is Here to Stay may have been a touch more accurate, but it's just not tweetable or a powerful blog title. Will I be reviewing blog content more carefully over the next few weeks to make sure I've achieved a logical sequence in the body and a strong introduction? Absolutely.
4. Enjoy It
While I don't think that any PR is good PR, criticism is a natural part of developing a following and voice. I'm not happy to see people tearing apart my work, but I'm glad for the associated traffic. In the first months of business blogging, every Facebook share or comment can feel like a triumph. Once you've passed the initial stage, responding to criticism is just part of the job. Developing critics means that you're visible, and you should give yourself a pat on the back for gaining a folowing.
Distributing blog content on social media means that writers are faced with more real-time feedback than ever before. While letters to the editor used to be delivered by snailmail and distributed in print, anyone with a Twitter handle can let you know exactly what they think in seconds. Responding to criticism isn't the most fun or glamorous part of content creation, but it's just not optional. Smart business bloggers know to respond to the feedback, apply truth and enjoy the visibility.