I got a YouTube notification today that I’d received a comment on a video.
Once I read it, my immediate reaction was to feel a little hurt.
The comment (left by someone that was probably in their 70s, based on something they said in the comment) suggested that my video content was “childish” and that my presentation wasn’t great either.
My immediate reaction was to write an angry response questioning whether anything that they’d produced that was any better (they hadn’t published any videos) and what right they had to question my production quality when I put a lot of effort into creating my videos.
Fortunately I’ve been dealing with people long enough to know that you can’t please everyone, not everyone says what they actually mean, and worse, there are those that take joy from attacking and abusing others.
I didn’t respond to the comment straight away. I made a coffee instead. It was a good coffee.
Once I’d had time to think about the comment, I was ready to look at it again and see how I could benefit from it.
I’ve broken my response down into steps so I can show you how I handled it. I hope that this will help you to cope with the unpleasantness you’ll no doubt receive at some point.
The Internet, like the world, is full of people that find it easier to tear down something somebody else is building than try to create something themselves.
Fortunately, the Internet is also full of wonderful people that value what you’re building and they’ll be leaving positive comments too.
Handling criticism is a skill that takes practice. I’m still trying to master it too. 🙂
Take a deep breath before replying to the comment
By not immediately responding, I gave myself chance to think clearly about what I really felt about what they’d written and how I could turn it into a positive experience.
If I’d have responded out of anger, I’d have written a response that might have started an online argument, publicly on one of my videos.
By doing so, I’d have looked petty and small-minded and, as the comment suggested, childish.
I did need to go back and edit the comment a couple of times after I’d posted it to refine this process but I was pretty pleased with my response.
If the commenter now chooses to reply in an equally negative fashion, they’ll be revealing themselves to be a troll and I can block them without regret.
Look at the negative comment objectively
Looking at the comment, line by line, I was able to consider how to respond in a way that makes me look a rational adult and in a way that recognised the observations of the person making the comments.
Yes, the poster might just have been an old, belligerent troll but by responding in a positive way, I wanted to show my subscribers that I valued their comments and that I was willing to improve the channel based on their feedback.
Be honest with yourself about the comment
Other than my initial, emotional reaction, this was the hardest part for me. I had to look at each line and ask myself, “were they right?”
Was my video content childish?
No, not really. I demonstrated something in an easy-to-follow format that might appear simple to someone with a high opinion of themselves but accessible to my target audience.
And that made me feel better instantly – the realisation that the person that didn’t like my content wasn’t the type of person that I’m creating my content for.
Was my production quality low?
Honestly, yes and no.
Even my earliest videos were much better than a lot of stuff I see on YouTube but that’s not really how I should be measuring my performance.
The comment was left on one of my earliest videos, created over six months ago.
Since then, I’ve learned about appropriate lighting for video production, how to set up the mic so my voice is clearer, how to edit out all the hesitation in my voice and how to balance the lighting and volume.
So, in a way, they were absolutely correct. But they were also late to the party. I’d already realised what they were saying and I’d tried to improve my production values by learning from other YouTubers.
I’m happy to say that my production process and techniques have dramatically improved since that early video and I’m confident that I’m producing quality content that my targeted group will enjoy.
They nice thing is that I’m getting plenty of positive comments to support that theory. 🙂
All feedback is valuable
This was my first truly negative comment. I’ve had others before that might have seemed negative but they hadn’t been as obnoxious in their expression as this one.
That doesn’t mean this one didn’t have value.
Any feedback that helps you to improve is positive feedback.
You might not like what people have to say about your work but if it helps you to improve what you do, it’s can become a positive experience.
If you manage to turn clearly spiteful messages into a positive experience then really, you get the last laugh.
You can’t please everyone
All of us have different tastes. We like some things that others despise and vice-versa.
Unfortunately on a public platform like YouTube, sooner or later people that don’t like your content are going to come across it and, instead of just moving on and finding something they like, they’re going to say something nasty about it.
It’s not a reflection on you as a video producer, it’s a reflection on them as a human being.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take their negative words into something useful.
You have the final word
In spite of what I’ve written above, there will be comments that are just nasty and they’re written with the intent to undermine and insult your efforts.
Although it makes you look good if you publish negative comments so you can respond positively to them, there will be times when that just isn’t practical.
If you can’t see any way you can respond to a comment in a positive way, you don’t have to publish it.
It’s your platform and you have a right to protect your audience from a negative experience.
If you find that your particular niche is attracting a particularly large number of negative comments, you might want to consider setting new comments to be moderated instead of immediately published.
If someone leaves a negative comment on your YouTube channel or blog, can you turn it into something beneficial?
Here’s a summary of the steps I discussed above:
- Take a deep breath.
Don’t respond until you’re calm and collected
- Look at the comment objectively.
What are they really saying behind the nastiness?
- Be honest with yourself.
Is there any way you can improve based on their words?
- All feedback is valuable.
It could help you improve
- You can’t please everyone.
That’s okay – not everyone is interested in what you’re doing.
- You have the final word.
You don’t have to publish everything. Don’t be afraid to delete particularly obnoxious posts.
Your audience will judge you by how you respond to people that don’t agree with you.
Your biggest fans might even jump to your defence but no matter how heated they might get, you always need to respond in a calm logical manner.
Not only does it make you look like an authority worth following but it also makes it much harder for trolls that follow.
If trolls see you calmly responding to other trolls, they won’t see you as much fun to target. If they see you react to every negative post, I’m sure you can imagine what’s going to happen.
Edit: A happy ending
Shortly after I published this post, I received a response to my reply.
The original commenter apologised if he’d offended me and explained that he was 90 and (this is the part that made me laugh) he had no problem with my video content or the quality.
His comment was actually about the product I was reviewing!
I’m not sure how that could be described as childish but that’s okay, it appeared English was not his native language. It was nice he responded in such a positive way.
If I’d have chosen to respond in anger, I can’t help but wonder if he’d have replied at all, or if he had, whether it would have been so pleasant.