Social media marketing

How to handle negative criticism on social media 

by Michaela fong

Social media marketing

How to handle negative criticism on social media 

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What do you do when you receive a negative comment on social media? The thing is, getting negative criticism of any sort isn’t comfortable. It just isn’t. When I encountered my first negative comment on TikTok about 2 years ago, it hit me hard. From initial shock to anger to self-doubt, I remember the rollercoaster of emotions all too well. I’m at peace with it now, and I know how to handle criticism moving forward, but it definitely took time.

By the way, when I say negative criticism, I’m not just talking about random trolls. I’m talking about the criticism that targets our weak spots. For me, one of my weak spots is my grammar. 

At the time, getting a negative comment about my grammar felt personal because it was an  insecurity of mine. Since I grew up in a different country, I mostly learned English through listening, reading, and watching English movies. Over the years I’ve gotten better at speaking and writing, but even today, grammar isn’t my strength.

So yes, I make a lot of grammar mistakes and it’s embarrassing when someone calls it out. Your weak spot may not be grammar, but we all have our personal weak spots we deal with. Maybe you don’t have confidence in your product, your skills, or how you show up on social media. Maybe you’re embarrassed about showing your face on video or simply the quality of your reels. 

Remember, criticism doesn’t define your self-worth. When someone leaves a negative comment, it reflects more on them than it does on you. Truly believing that is easier said than done, I know. So, let me share three steps that have helped me handle negative criticism on social media, so you can get through similar situations should they ever happen to you. 

Define whose opinion you take into consideration 

You’ll want to do this exercise when you’re in a good headspace: grab a notebook and ask yourself, “Who’s opinions about me and my work truly matter?” Then write down the names of everyone on that list. Now, why would you do this?

Well, it’s so when you encounter someone who does share a negative opinion, whether it’s online or in your personal life, you’ve already pre-selected if their opinion matters to you. If the answer is “yes”, take a deep breath and listen. Even if it’s negative, they might have something valuable to say.

If the answer is “no” if this person’s opinion isn’t on your list of people whose opinion you value, there’s no need to bother reading the rest of their comment.

Remember, it’s your business and your life. You have the power to decide whose opinions truly matter in it. Okay, so whose opinions do matter? 

Your Customers Opinions 

A customer’s opinion can hold real value because they’re investing their hard-earned money into your product or service. Which means they’ll usually give you feedback on your product or service you can learn from and improve on for next time.

For example, let’s say a customer left a comment saying they ordered something from you. It arrived late, and they’re upset about it. So of course, it makes you feel emotional.

It’s not your fault. You had no control over the shipping delays, so what do you do? Take a deep breath, acknowledge their frustration, and explain there were shipping delays out of your control. Then, think to yourself, “Is there something I can learn from this situation and implement in my business?”

Maybe you can have a banner on your website that says during busy shopping seasons, there may be possible shipping delays. If you already had the banner and the customer still isn’t happy about the delayed shipping, you can create a pre-written answer explaining that shipping delays are outside your control, so you don’t have to emotionally deal with how to respond every time. 

Your Community’s Opinions 

Let’s chat about the second group whose opinions truly count — your community. These are the people who actively follow you on Instagram and engage with your content. Let’s say you decide to make a change in your business, like increasing prices, and suddenly, not just one person, but your entire community starts to voice their concerns. 

When several people from your community point out the same thing, the feedback may be negative, but it’s still something you can learn from.

The point of this scenario isn’t for you to plunge into self-doubt, thinking you’ve made the wrong decision. Instead, it’s a sign you probably could have communicated this change more openly so they didn’t feel left in the dark.

If it’s a change you have to make in your business, but your community may not like it, you may have to go on Instagram stories and explain how this change improves their experience.

Now, remember, this was just one example. This doesn’t mean you have to explain every single decision you make like raising prices. The point is, when your community provides feedback, especially when several members raise similar concerns, it’s a chance to think about how to communicate with them better.  And when you do, it lets them know you are transparent and keeping their best interests in mind. 

Your Friends’ & Family’s Opinions

The third group of people whose opinions should matter to you in your business journey are your friends and family. Now, this can be a bit tricky because you love them, and naturally, you’d hope for their support and encouragement.

But sometimes, their negative opinions can make you doubt yourself. It’s important to remember they might not fully understand or support your business aspirations like you do, especially if they haven’t walked that path themselves.

And if they start judging the way you show up on social media for your business, I know it hurts. The first thing you can do is have an open conversation with them. Explain why this business is important to you and how you would appreciate their support instead. 

If they still don’t get it, well, it may be time to remove them from the list of opinions that matter. It doesn’t mean you stop loving them. It just means you won’t let their negativity drag you down or make you feel embarrassed. 

I’ve been there myself when my family — they constantly joked that I was trying to be an influencer. This is your business journey. You have to stay true to your path.

For everyone else — trolls, strangers, or anyone leaving negative comments who don’t belong on your list — remember, you’ve already pre-selected whose opinions you believe are worth considering. So when you encounter their negative comments, you can confidently hit the “delete” button without it affecting you and focus on the people whose opinions truly matter. 

Define if it has a merit and if you have energy to deal with it 

Here’s the deal: You need to treat a negative comment like a fact-checking mission. Is what this person saying true? Does it hold merit? And if it does, then you can decide whether it’s worth the energy to handle it. 

For example, if you have an angry customer because your product arrived late, or didn’t arrive at all, that has merit. It’s true. As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to address it. So don’t delete the comment. Step up, reach out to the customer, and help resolve the issue — both privately and publicly — to show you care about your customer’s happiness. You can even save your response as a template for future situations. 

But what if the negative comment has nothing to do with your business? If it’s someone’s opinion, or something beyond your control, you can then ask yourself if you have the energy to engage in that conversation. If yes, go ahead. But if it will only be counterproductive and drain your energy, it’s perfectly fine not to reply.

If a comment is outright rude or damages the positive environment you’re trying to create in your comments section, don’t hesitate to hit the delete button and move on with your day.

The key here is to think about these scenarios ahead of time. You can either play them out in your head or even jot them down in a notebook. Take mental note of any negative comments that keep coming up, or what you fear might happen, so you can create an action plan for dealing with them in an uplifting way. 

Create your action plan 

This has been a game-changer for me in quickly handling negative situations without wasting extra energy. Hopefully, it will be for you too! What you want to do is create an action plan for how you respond to specific situations and negative replies.

It’s not like you’ll have 20 different negative scenarios you might come up against. Usually, it’s just 3-5, right? That makes it easier come up with a plan for how to respond to each. 

Plus, you won’t have to stew in fear or discomfort if the situation actually happens. You’ll already know what to do. 

For me, my plan is pretty simple. Here’s what I do: 

Step 1 — If someone leaves a negative comment, and they’re not on the list of people whose opinions truly matter to me or my business, I’ll delete and block them. No second thoughts. 

Step 2 — If someone leaves a comment with merit I want to address, I’ve got prewritten replies ready to go. I never respond in the heat of the moment. I wait until I’ve calmed down. Then I’ll use the templates, which makes handling those situations much easier. 

And that’s it! To create your own plan, think about the negative comments or scenarios you’ve faced, whether on social media or in person. Then, jot down your potential responses. It will save a lot of personal drama, so you know exactly how to respond if they were to ever happen. 

Negative criticism on social media doesn’t have to drag you down

Let’s recap one more time so you can put these steps into action right away. First, you’ll want to create your own list of whose opinions truly matter and whose don’t. Next, when a negative comment pops up, ask yourself “Does this have merit? Is it something I can learn from? From a business perspective, is it something I need to deal with?” 

If yes, take a moment to cool down and craft a thoughtful response (bonus points if it’s from a template). If it has no merit, delete, or even block it, without thinking twice. And finally, create an action plan for yourself. When certain situations arise, determine what you’ll do ahead of time so you don’t dwell on it any longer than you have to. 

This is a personal process I’ve created over the years and something I wish someone walked me through back in the day. But now, I’m grateful I have the opportunity to share it with you. I’m also here to remind you that you’re not alone next time you see a negative comment pop up on your screen. 

My hope is that this will help you navigate any negative comments that come your way, with ease and with confidence, so they don’t dim your sparkle. 

If you want to dive deeper into this conversation, tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.

Until next time, 


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