How to handle criticism in the era of personal branding?

Today, more and more people create content from their personal social media accounts as they understand that this allows them to build a more intimate relationship with their audience, reveal their knowledge and attract potential employers.

Some do this purely for self-realization. Others hope to increase the awareness of their own business or to strengthen the brand of the company they represent. And yet, many people who have a lot to say still hesitate about being more visible on social media. Often, it’s because they worry that this would not only attract support but negative reactions, too.

Does increased visibility require sacrifices?

Once we decide to start creating content on social media, we must understand that it will reach far beyond our friends, acquaintances, or family members. People will not necessarily like what we have to say, but remember: not everyone must like us, and it would be impossible anyway.

Some will say that publicity comes at a cost, and in the case of social media, the cost is unpleasant comments. The bigger your audience, the bigger the chances are that some people will feel the urge to leave negative comments on your content. Influencers often share their experiences upon receiving adverse reactions. But it isn’t just influencers who receive them – we’re likely to get them soon enough after we start sharing content on social media. But it’s important to understand that this isn’t always bad – perhaps the person simply has a different opinion or views?

It’s about them, not about you

A negative reaction is a phrase that can be interpreted from different angles. For some, it will be any kind of disagreement with their opinion. For others – rude or insulting comments. Then there are the off-topic comments people write without properly reading the original post first, often just aiming to divert attention to themselves.

Soon after beginning to communicate from personal accounts, people will sensitively meet such reactions, often considering stopping the communication altogether. But remember that such reactions are usually caused by feelings and problems of the commentators themselves and thus are not related to your content. Your post or article, appearing at a certain moment, becomes a catalyst for the person’s negative comment.

Upon receiving such a comment, the first step is to evaluate it. If it’s not constructive or the language is abusive – most likely, the comment isn’t worth your attention and energy required for replying to (or even thinking about) it.

The art of reaction

As your visibility on social media increases, negative reactions are likely to increase, too. How do we react to them if we need to do it at all? Perhaps influencers with huge audiences could share more advice on dealing with this, but we should all know something. Adverse reactions should not be stopping you from personal communication and, thus, strengthening your own or your organization’s brand, increasing visibility of it, or maybe attracting talent. So here are a few tips on reacting to negative comments on social media.

  • Different opinions shouldn’t hurt you. No matter how much we’d like people to always agree with our thoughts, insights, and other ideas, we shouldn’t expect it to always be that way. People come with different experiences, views, and opinions, so it’s only normal that a different opinion will encourage a discussion. That’s how new ideas and thoughts are often born.
  • Thank you for your attention. Upon receiving an unpleasant comment, we can react to it by thanking for the insights or attention. If you see that the person didn’t properly read your post and commented for the sake of commenting, there’s no point in starting a discussion.
  • Ignoring. Although many experts will recommend you to reply to all comments as it increases content visibility, sometimes, you will receive hugely off-topic comments. They were most likely written to divert attention to the commenter themself or simply represent the person’s prejudice towards the insights you shared. In such cases, you don’t have to react to the comment at all. Even if it isn’t algorithm-friendly.
  • Not taking it personally. Over time, you will learn to distinguish whose opinions really matter and recognize when a comment is worth discussing or ignoring. What matters most is not taking it personally.

Surely, once you start communicating more, negative comments can make the fruits of personal branding slightly less sweet. However, in no event should they stop you from creating value for your audience.

You may find this article in the Lithuanian language here.