A flowchart of how to respond appropriately to criticism.

The Power of Online Criticism: How to Use it to your Advantage as a Business Owner

Hey fellow business owners! Today, let’s chat about a common challenge we all deal with online: handling mean comments. You know, those not-so-nice remarks that can show up on your social media.

Quick heads up: I’ve been through it too, and even as a life coach, I’ve got some stories to share about me goofing up online.

It’s crucial to avoid saying or doing things that could harm not only our business and online image but also our personal relationships. In this article, we will discuss how to know when to respond or when to ignore comments.

First off, I want to share my experiences with you so you won’t waste your time and energy trying to boost your ego and accidentally hurting your business.

Are you addicted to that social media app?

Now, let me spill the beans about my past experiences. Back in the day, I had a political X/Twitter account where I vented about everything I disliked regarding certain groups. It worked like a charm—I gained thousands of followers in no time. But here’s the catch: I felt the need to respond to every comment, even the not-so-nice ones.

I’d spend hours online, engaging with every message that came my way.

Trust me, it’s exhausting. 

You can’t run a business or live a balanced life if you’re glued to your screen 24/7. My husband even complained that I was more attached to my phone than to my family. That’s why I decided to make a change—no more constant phone-checking on X/Twitter.

But putting my own junk to the side, let’s talk about why you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself online before dealing with trolls. (Check out the video below for a quick explanation why someone trolls online.)

Why you Need to Be Careful with Online Criticism

I don’t know what kind of business you are running, but I do know this fact – no matter what it is, trying to ‘clap back’ at online haters does neither you nor your business any favors. Let’s consider one scenario to demonstrate how combating negative criticism online is not helpful.

Imagine you own a small bakery and promote your delicious pastries on social media. Now, if people start leaving negative comments about your pastries or your service, it can be really stressful for you. Here’s how it can hurt if you choose to comment back without discernment.

How Fighting Online Haters Hurts You and Your Business

  1. Making Things Worse: If you fight back at people who say mean things online, the problem can get bigger. What started small might turn into a big fight, bringing more bad attention and hurting your business’s reputation even more.
  2. Looking Bad: If you respond without thinking, it can make your business look bad. Customers might think you’re not good at handling criticism or being professional, and that might make them not want to buy from you.
  3. Losing Trust: Arguing online can make customers trust your business less. They might start doubting if you’re a reliable and professional business, and that could make them stop being loyal customers.
  4. Wasting Time and Energy: Fighting online takes a lot of time and energy. Instead of using that time to make your business better and make customers happy, you might end up stuck in fights that don’t help your business grow.
  5. Feeling Stressed: Dealing with negativity online can be really stressful. (You do know there are people who love baiting people into arguments just for sport, right? They are called trolls and they don’t think normally, civilized people.) It can affect how you make decisions and how well your business does. Taking care of your mental well-being is important for running a successful business.

To sum it up, if you don’t handle online criticism carefully, it can cause problems for your small business, like hurting your reputation and making you feel stressed. 

It’s important to deal with negative comments in a smart way, being professional and finding helpful solutions. Next, we will talk about how to handle online criticism the right way.

Don't let people who probably will never come back or become customers ruin your mental health. Your job is to focus on doing a good job for the people who appreciate you and your work.

How to Handle Online Criticism Like a Boss

So, how do you handle comments without losing your sanity? Here are some simple tips:
Check the Tone: Is it a Friend or Foe?

When you see a comment, think about its vibe. Is it like a high-five, or is it more like a jab? 

Some folks out there want to stir up trouble right from the beginning. They throw in comments just to get a reaction, like starting a fire for fun. Be careful with these ones—responding might add fuel to the flames. It’s like when someone tries to pick a fight at a party; you don’t have to join in. Keep it cool and know when to walk away.

Example: Imagine you post a pic of your latest product, and someone comments, “Wow, this looks cheap.” Pause and think: Is this a helpful critique or just someone being mean? If it feels like a cheap shot, it might be best to take a deep breath and let it slide.

A person holding up a sign that says anger is a tool designed to help, not hurt you.

Understand the Purpose: What’s the Scoop Behind the Comment?

Now, let’s dive into the why. Why did they leave that comment? 

Are they genuinely curious, trying to understand more, or are they just dropping by to throw shade? 

It’s like when you share your favorite recipe, and someone asks, “Why did you use so much garlic?” They might be genuinely curious about your cooking choices. On the flip side, if someone says, “Your cooking is terrible,” they might not be looking for a cooking class—they might just want to be grumpy.

Another example: You share a post about your business strategy, and someone comments, “Why do you do it this way?” If they seem genuinely interested in your approach, it could be an opportunity for a good conversation. But if it sounds more like, “This is dumb,” they might not be in the mood for a friendly chat.

Not all comments are hurtful; in fact, sometimes comments are very helpful. This article dives more into how to discern the purpose behind someone’s comments.

Evaluate the Value: Is It Worth Your Time and Energy?

Time is precious, so think about what you’ll get from responding. 

Ask yourself the important questions: Will my response make things better, or will it just turn into a pointless back-and-forth? It’s like when someone challenges you to a game of chess, but they keep knocking the pieces off the board. If it’s just going to be a mess, maybe it’s better to decline the game.

Example: You share your opinion on a hot topic, and someone disagrees with you. If they’re open to a discussion and you think it could lead to better understanding, go for it. But if it seems like they just want to argue without really listening, it might be a better use of your time to focus on more positive interactions.

Remember, not every comment needs a response. Be smart about where you invest your energy, and keep the online vibes positive! Still confused on whether to respond or not. Use the flow chart below. Next, I’ll share with you my final thoughts.

A flowchart of how to respond appropriately to criticism.

Final Thoughts 

Remember, you don’t have to respond to everyone, especially as your online presence grows. Don’t let the online world consume your time and energy. Focus on what matters most—running a successful business and enjoying a balanced life. Cheers to navigating the online world with grace!

If you need more help, don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you’re looking to dive more into this issue – listen to this episode from my podcast.