Musicians are all about incorporating social media into their marketing strategy these days, but for all of the positive aspects of social media, we sometimes forget about the negative side.
The fact is, if your band is active on social media, sooner or later, someone will leave a nasty comment about you. And for all of the social media advice that’s out there for musicians, many people are still unprepared to deal with these negative comments.
Here’s a quick guide on how to handle negative social media comments in a positive, respectful, and productive manner.
1. Separate trolls from critics
When someone criticizes your art, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been personally attacked. After all, you’ve poured your heart and soul into your music, so anyone who doesn’t like it must not like you either. Most of the time, though, criticism simply comes down to differences in taste or opinion rather than personal loathing.
For example, some people like iPhones while others prefer Androids. Does that mean that anyone who uses an Android phone hates Steve Jobs? Of course not. People just have different opinions about what makes a good smartphone.
In the same sense, some people may disagree with you about what good music should sound like, but that doesn’t mean they’re attacking you personally. Once you put the personal aspect aside, you can either accept their criticism as legitimate or discard it as a simple difference of opinion.
On the other hand, some commenters may actually be trying to directly insult you. In these extreme cases, it’s important to remember that everyone has their own issues to deal with; some people may be jealous of your success, while others simply get a kick out of bashing other people online. Whatever the case is, anyone who attacks you personally doesn’t deserve a response from you.
2. Don't retaliate
When nasty people come after you online, the best thing to do is either ignore or block their comments. Retaliation only lowers you to the level of Internet trolls, and nothing good can come from wading in those waters.
At the same time, you may be legitimately angry or offended about something someone said about you online. In this case, you may want to find a safe outlet for your frustration – vent to your bandmates, write an angry letter and burn it, wallow in self-pity with beer and ice cream.
It’s okay to feel hurt when someone tries to hurt you, but remember that ultimately, you have the upper hand; only you have the power to delete the negative comment from your page, ban the person who left the comment, and never hear from them again. Now, doesn’t that feel better than starting an endless Twitter war?
3. Learn to appreciate strong opinions
Rather than seeing negative comments as signs of failure, it’s just as logical to see them as signs of success. Think about it – every successful band will be criticized, and the ones that are most successful are sometimes the ones that are criticized the most.
So if you’re starting to see more negative comments on social media, that means your music is reaching more people who had never heard of you before. And for every 100 new people you reach who love your music, there are bound to be a few others who happen to hate it, which is a good thing if you want your music to stand out from the rest of the noise out there.
As Seth Godin says in his book Tribes, “Remarkable visions and genuine insights are always met with resistance…without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it's unlikely to be worth the journey. Persist.”
If you want your music to be bland and unremarkable, then maybe negative comments are a sign of failure, but if you want your music to mean something, strong opinions are exactly what you’re looking for.
If your band has any sort of social media presence, there’s no way to avoid negative comments, so the best thing you can do is to learn to deal with them appropriately. Occasionally, these negative comments might contain some nuggets of wisdom that, as hard as they are to accept, may actually help you in your journey to become a better musician.
For the most part, though, the best thing to do with a negative comment is simply to forget about it. With any sort of success comes a certain amount of backlash, and rather than dwelling on the trolls and haters of the world, take the time instead to celebrate the people who actually love your music and want to hear more of it.
Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can hear his musical work at birdscompanionmusic.com and read his written work at caseyvanwensemwriting.com.