How to Respond to Negative Feedback About Your Social Media

How to Respond to Negative Feedback on your Social Media - Melinda Massie blog

If you put yourself out there in any real way in your marketing and especially on social media, you'll eventually receive negative feedback.

It’s true in auditions and performance; it’s true in marketing.

Note: this post is about minor stuff like people who think you post too often or don’t like what you post. If you’ve made a major misstep (i.e. - really jacked it up), check out this blog post on crisis communications.

Personally, I see negative feedback as a marketing achievement unlocked. It means you’re getting out there enough, and most likely speaking directly to your target market enough to stir up some cranky folk.

As Maria Callas said:

"When my enemies stop hissing, I shall know I'm slipping."

Today's blog was inspired by the letters "M" and "C" for the Mad Men Quotes Instagram account and a cranky follower.

In an IG story, Mad Men Quotes shared a screenshot of someone saying they were mad that the account shared their feed post to a story post and was going to stop following.

(Personally, I think people who dramatically announce their departure are merely attention-seekers, but that's a topic for another day.)

Mad Men Quotes was quite kind about it. They said they appreciated the feedback and would do it less. They also made note of the available mute option.

Screenshot from Mad Men Quotes

Let's face it, Don Draper wouldn't have been as kind.

Reality is, eventually you're gonna piss people off. If you haven't, you may not be taking enough risk or putting yourself out there enough.

We all try to finesse the fine line between getting our message out there enough that it's seen and being out there so much that we become annoying.

Thing is, no matter what, you’re going to annoy some people.

When I was a dance teacher, I received incredible sales training. (After all, you can't teach dance lessons if nobody buys dance lessons.) We were told that 10% will love you and buy no matter what you do. 10% will hate you and never buy no matter what you do. The other 80% needed to be persuaded to buy.

So that 10% that'll hate you no matter what? They're most likely the ones bitching...and they don't count. (Obvs they count as human beings...they’re just not part of your target market and that’s OK. It’s also OK to not bother wasting time on strategies that will never win them over. Just let it go and focus on the other 90%.)

I follow Jen Kirkman on IG, and she's a MASTER at pitching her newsletter, shows, and products. She recently had a story of negative feedback she received. Here’s how she handled it:

Jen Kirkman Screenshot BS.jpg
Jen Kirkman Screenshot Reply.jpg

(Part of this comes back around to the false notion that marketing is bad and that people that market themselves are shitty that I discussed last week, as well as the RIDICULOUS idea that those in the performing arts don’t need to be paid. Which I haven’t blogged about - yet - but can redheaded rant on for. ev. ah.)

So let’s say you have been putting yourself out there (hooray!) and get some negative feedback (Marketing achievement unlocked!). What do you do next?

  • Take a look at who's giving the complaint, and how they're doing it. Is it someone you've previously interacted with in a positive manner? Is it someone you've never seen interact before? Are their social media feeds predominantly negative or positive? (Although that's not always a good tell...some people have fabulous presence but are raging assholes in the dms.) If it’s been positive in the past, then there could be a solid point to the complaint. If they’re jerks, then don’t worry about it. (Some people bitch just to hear the sound of their own voice.)

  • Decide if you’re going to respond or not. Truth talk: while it’s good form and best practice to acknowledge everyone’s concerns, some people are jackwads and don’t warrant the extra energy expended. Is the complaint completely unfounded? Does the complainer make rational sense. (Not to sound cruel here but I’ve been using social media for marketing for over a decade and some people just don’t make any sense.) Are they threatening you? Is it a troll or a bot? Some things are best to ignore, delete, report, and/or block, and move on.

  • If you do respond, be kind. Thank them for their response and taking the time out of their day and sharing their thoughts. (This may or may not come off as condescending. Try not to be condescending, but if they're being an asshole then … well … that’s kind of on them. But try to be kind anyway. And side note - if you’re an asshole to a professional comedian, expect some snark back. Those are the rules.) Address their problem and, if warranted, share with them why you do things the way you do. Personally I’m an over-explainer because I find that most anger is rooted in fear and fear is rooted in the unknown. If they understand why you do it, they may be more amenable to it. Or they hate it which means they’re not your target market.


Pro tip: if you find it a challenge to be kind without sounding sarcastic or condescending, write what you want to say first. Then go do something else that will make you happy. Then come back, reread their comment to make sure you comprehended it properly and reread your comment to make sure it’s a properly measured response.

Unless of course your brand image and voice is sassy and sarcastic in which case, have at it and pop off...but even then I HIGHLY recommend you give the negative comment some time to breathe. You may find you misread it the first time or that it wasn’t as bad as you originally thought. In this case, you’ll be happy you didn’t immediately react.  


Then the big question: do you change your marketing strategy based on the negative feedback?

As with all things - that depends:

  • Is this one lone complaint? If so, that means it’s an outlier and you probably don’t need to worry about it. Respond kindly, then move on without making any changes to your marketing strategies or how you do things.    

  • Are you receiving multiple complaints about the same thing? This is something to potentially consider further. Are those complaints from people who are usually fans or are solidly in your target market? If so, take a look into the complaints and adjust strategies if necessary. If not, you may not need to change your strategy completely, but you do need to at least look into where you’re targeting because you’re reaching the wrong market.


Pro Tip: Complaints don’t mean you have to change or even that what you said/did was wrong. It’s like when you receive negative feedback on a performance. You take into account who it’s from and how it truly affects you. Notes from the director - pay attention. Bitchy comments from the critic who never has anything good to say? Let that ish roll of your back.


For many cases of negative, un-constructive feedback, take this next sentence and burn it into your soul:

If people are angry enough to comment over something you’re doing that’s completely benign - like sharing an IG feed post to your IG story - that has absolutely nothing to do with you. There are obviously other things going on with them and they’re taking it out on you. Make like Elsa and let it go.

Bottom line: how does what is being complained about fall into your overall strategy?

If that strategy is being bitched about but is meeting its goals then leave it alone. Those people aren't your target market, and that's fine.

If the strategy is being bitched about and it's not working, retool it. Especially if those that are complaining are usually solid supporters.  

And that complaint that Mad Men Quotes shared? They told me that after they shared it, they had numerous amounts of DMs from people who told them that they LIKED when they shared posts to stories. So it’s obvious that that was a one off and not someone truly in their target market!

And seriously, if you’re into Mad Men that much, you’re happy to find references everywhere they appear and this account does a fabulous job of tying current news and pop culture into scenes from the show. Sometimes it’s truly marvelous.  

Have you received negative feedback to your social media marketing? How did you handle it? Share with us in the comments!

Need help creating your strategy? Contact me today and let’s make it happen together!