How to Handle Social-Media Criticism Sitting at a computer screen, people often get 'keyboard courage,' freely criticizing others without considering ramifications. When this happens to you, here is how to handle it.

By Ann Tran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"Keyboard courage" has some people posting cruel things they would otherwise not say to someone's face. Hiding behind a screen is not a shield.

As a social-media consultant and strategist, I have seen my fair share of rude behavior on various platforms and personally experienced this on several occasions. Everything from gossiping, not following through with deliverables and jealousy has come my way. While my first reaction is to fire back, I have learned this isn't an appropriate response. By firing back in social media, this is exactly what feeds the beast. Don't feed the beast!

Flying off on a rant and private messaging or calling the author to give them a piece of your mind will definitely delist you in my opinion. Yes, I have experienced this once and was cursed out. Being graceful is the way to go.

Plus, a sense of entitlement is an extreme way to alienate yourself in social media. You may make certain social media lists one year but fall off the list next year. Ask yourself this: How do I stay on the radar? In social media, you really need to work hard to be noticed. Make the effort and your work will speak for itself.

Related: 3 Social Media Rules Most Entrepreneurs Don't Follow

When you are being criticized online, I have found the following advice has helped me.

Rise above it. You cannot change people's behavior, but you can change the people you choose to stick around or follow on social media. You can choose a negative or positive attitude. Pick your path wisely.

Remain neutral. Always take emotions out of the discussion to aid productivity and possibly provide the other person with a reason to shift his or her mindset. This will allow both parties to examine or re-examine both perspectives.

Keep in mind no one is perfect. Everybody has flaws. Power magnifies the flaws and cracks. You have to amplify the strengths and focus on what is productive rather than all the weaknesses. If an individual asks for your opinion online (or if you are extremely close to them) you can provide positive suggestions about possible improvements.

I tend to stay positive and helpful, but we cannot be a caretaker for all. You can make suggestions of books or articles that could assist them. Set your boundaries so you are not drawn into the drama of social media.

Stay data focused. Be professional and stick with the facts. There are some discussions that will neither warrant your time nor your effort in your social media steams. Be diplomatic, be fair and be factual.

Be courteous of people's time. Just remember, social media provides us with a tool to access so many opportunities. Be cognizant that people have a life outside of social media. If you are going to make an argument or deal with critic, make it succinct. Don't get dragged in to a hour-long ordeal.

Related: What Would Jane Austen Do? A Guide to Social Media Etiquette

Try to take the conversation offline. Before you do, you may want to peruse their tweets and posts to determine whether it is actually worth your time and energy. You may even want to Google the individual. There are only so many hours in the day, so pick your battle wisely.

Take action. Do you ever block someone? What if someone is extremely rude and starts making personal attacks. What do you do? I remain cordial because eventually you will run into the person at a tweet-up or a conference. When you stay polite and courteous, you will not feel uncomfortable or awkward since you have not done anything wrong.

When all fails, I do block the person.

I hear this quite often: "It's quality and not quantity." Although this is true, that number is a gauge of success. One can reach a larger audience, but also remember that with a larger audience, careful curation of your social channels is also part of the formula. And minding your P's and Q's can make all the difference. Remember, you could eventually meet these people face-to-face, so treat people online like you would treat them in person.

Related: Social Media Etiquette: 5 Questions to Ask Before Posting About the News

Ann Tran

Social Media Consultant

Ann Tran is a respected social media consultant, travel social marketing strategist, influencer, and sought-after speaker at social media and technology events.  Ann helps brands understand and use the power of digital media and online influence to build their business. 

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Process

Employees Check Their Emails 36 Times An Hour — Here Are 5 Proven Tips to Get That Time Back.

The idea of "inbox zero" is much more than a myth — it's doable.

Growing a Business

What It Takes to Build a Best-In-Class Company — 3 Essential Elements

The journey to excellence is not a matter of chance but a deliberate pursuit to shape the future and raise the bar for all who follow.

Business News

A Judge Blocked a U.S. State's Attempt to Ban TikTok for All Residents — Here's Why

Montana residents would have faced $10,000 fines for using the app.

Leadership

Why Overcoming the Shadows of Your Past Will Lead to Your Brightest Future

How to face and overcome the voices holding you back to propel yourself forward

Business Ideas

This Teacher Sells Digital Downloads for $10. Her Side Hustle Now Makes Six Figures a Month: 'It Seems Too Good to Be True, But It's Not.'

When one middle school teacher needed to make some extra income, she started a remote side hustle with no physical products and incredibly low overhead. Now she brings in six figures each month, and offers courses teaching others how to do the same.

Growing a Business

Queen Latifah Says Female Leaders Need to Do These 4 Things to Succeed

The celebrated actress, entertainer and entrepreneur has strong advice for women in business.