Can Criticism Build Your Business?
Being criticized stings, particularly when a critical comment is made online for everyone to see. Particularly when it’s on your business blog or social profile!
If you’re doing business online, you’re being criticized.
Do you take criticism personally, or do you handle it in such a way that you actually increase your online authority and build your business?
Consider this scenario:
Anonymous commenter on your business blog: What a useless post! Waste of time.
You: Can you tell me what you thought was useless about it?
Anonymous: Well, you sucked me in with that crazy headline, then your post wasn’t even about that. It was very misleading.
You: Ah, you’re right; I should have more directly addressed the question I raised in the header. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll make sure to do better in the future.
Accept the fact that everybody makes mistakes.
Yes, even you, even your employees. Mistakes, oversights, misalignments. Some days you are overwhelmed and you don’t take care over the details and you (sometimes) get caught.
When it happens and you really are in the wrong, you can use the opportunity to publicly admit to the error, then make it (publicly) right.
Sometimes this will increase your trustworthiness: other potential customers see that you’re human, that you’ve been able to hear the critique and you’ve not only heard, but you have made amends. That counts for a lot.
Sometimes, though, you will be in the right. What then?
Once in a while the negativity or critique is poorly considered or simply inaccurate. In those cases you do your best to respond politely, and you let the matter move on without undue attention being drawn to it.
If you enjoy a high level of public trust already, your fans will often come galloping over the hill to defend you!
If not, you still take the high road of doing what you can to keep an air of calm responsiveness, without going entirely out of your way to pacify a maniac.
And remember, not everyone is in your target market.
Sometimes you get caught in the line of fire simply because a person who is not in your audience demographic takes offense at your message.
Perhaps you market to pre-teen girls, and an annoyed 20-something thinks you’ve included too many pictures of Miley Cyris.
The fact of the matter is, your message wasn’t constructed for this particular critic. So even as you work to be polite and helpful, remember that your business doesn’t serve everyone.
The power belongs to you.
You can let negative comments and complaints — both the well-targeted and the inappropriate — improve your work, expand your trust factor, and build your business. Or you can refuse to publish the comments, run from the mistakes you’ve made, and see your audience engagement trickle away.
Either way, the power to use critique to build your business rests with you.