From Jason Falls:
It’s easy to say you don’t care, but most people do. Social media is an opt-in activity. If you don’t want to read a blog, follow on Twitter or connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, you don’t have to. But when someone who is reading or following stops … It hurts a little. You wonder why. You question your value. You take it personally.
Even just a little. And that is part of what makes social media human. Sometimes it hurts.
Note: This isn’t a response to Jason’s post as I don’t necessarily think he is complaining about this phenomena as much as he was simply pointing it out. It just serves an excellent jumping off point for the following rant…
There seem to be a lot more questions regarding Social Media lately. These conversations examine not only the tactics, but the practitioners themselves. As these questions continue to grow and amplify, the conversation continually seems to get so derailed by feelings that it feels like we’ve lost the ability to have a decent debate about a space we all care about.
Now, there are those who say that we should avoid naming names, that we should only question the ideas and not the people behind them. This is crap, plain and simple. When you publish on the web, you are to some extent creating a brand and, like it or not, brands can and should be questioned.
No one is going to spare the feelings of their cable company; no one is going to spare the feelings of a local eatery. No one is going to spare your feelings if you take the risk of putting your thoughts out there. It it doesn’t do you any favors if we treat you differently just because you decided to put your name on the door.
You can choose to ignore criticism. You can dismiss people as “haters”, but in the end you’ll miss out on the same opportunities you are trying to share with your audience to learn from the good, the bad and the ugly of what people are really saying about your brand. Just like your customers, you need to stop taking it personally and start taking it tactically.
If people care enough to talk about you, try to care enough to listen, even when it’s hard. Sure, critics needs to learn to be more respectful, but we rarely get to choose the method in which feedback is delivered. And in my experience, both personally and professionally, the most impacting feedback is rarely positive and is never easy to hear.
If someone really crosses a line, of course you should disregard them, but for the most part, there are valuable and occasionally valid insights that you many end up ignoring. I get it. It sucks to hear the negative. It sucks even more when there may be some truth to it.
Like it or not, if you hit publish, you’re a brand. Even if you happen to be a brand that no one cares about. Start separating feelings from your online identity. Start taking the same approach to your business that you often suggest yourself. Once you take a tactical approach to the personal, it will be a hell of a lot easier not to take things so personally.