An effective content marketing strategy relies on a lot of moving parts working together, the most important being your audience. This is who you’re writing for and who you want to attract, of course, so almost all aspects of your content marketing strategy need to center around this idea.
This also leaves you open to negative feedback, criticism, differing opinions, nitpickers and last but certainly not least, internet trolls. Unfortunately, these situations can quickly drain your passion and enthusiasm for your business, especially if they vastly outnumber the positive or useful feedback.
You’re never going to please everyone. You don’t want to ignore negative comments on a blog, because some negative feedback can be helpful to your business moving forward. That said, you need to be able to recognize the right kind of critical audience and separate that from the trolls if you want to attract the right people.
Here are five audience members you can ignore, so you can focus on serving the needs of the people who will benefit your business.
1. The Grammar Critic
The internet has given rise to all types, but the Grammar Critic is one of the most difficult to deal with. Yes, your content should be free of typos, grammatical errors, awkward sentences and the like, but these things do happen. It doesn’t mean your content is sloppy or unworthy, especially if it’s rare.
Unfortunately, this is the opportunity a Grammar Critic will jump on. Here’s their chance to flaunt their wisdom and genius in an attempt to destroy your credibility. Arguing with them won’t get you anywhere though, because this is a person more interested in sounding superior than actually providing helpful feedback.
In this situation, it’s best to simply thank them for pointing it out and move forward after fixing the error. It will make you look gracious and approachable, while outing them for who they are.
2. The Person with Unreasonable Opposing Viewpoints
Differences of opinion happen, no matter how hard you try to deliver solutions to your audience with all your content marketing efforts. While most people simply disagree, or open a dialogue to work through the differences and reach a better understanding, others just don’t want you to have an opinion that doesn’t align with their viewpoint.
They might point out slightly outdated information. They might mention a situation they know of that doesn’t apply. They might bring up the ways in which your solution doesn’t serve the few, only the many. The intent may be to discredit you, to position themselves as an authority or just to share information in a way that isn’t appropriate, but in any case, this isn’t something you want to entertain.
In these situations, it’s best to just thank them for their opinion and insight and appreciate the engagement.
3. The Person Who Found You Accidentally
You do your best to deliver tailored content to a target audience, but you’re bound to get some stragglers wandering in on occasion. In the best of scenarios, you may spark an interest and gain a new follower from this happy accident, but in the worst, you’ll have an interrogator questioning your content.
This person doesn’t understand your industry or the in-depth content you’re providing, so they will question everything. How they receive your content doesn’t matter, though, because it’s not for them. They’re not your target.
Don’t get wrapped up in explaining yourself in this situation, unless you have some belief that you could gain a follower from the interaction.
4. The Person Off Topic
Like the person who found your blog by accident, the off-topic person isn’t there for your content. They may be push their own business, spam your comments, ask for information that doesn’t apply and so on, none of which is related to your content.
Don’t see this as an opportunity to gain a follower. It’s your responsibility to protect your platform and prevent this sort of intrusion from affecting your loyal, dedicated followers. Delete the comments and block the user. Your audience will thank you.
5. The Person Who Just Wants to Argue
The person who just wants to argue on your blog is the classic internet troll. Unlike others hoping to provide valuable feedback, this person is just looking for a platform for a fight. If they comment with what seems like constructive criticism, and you respond politely and rationally, they will just continue to fight and attempt to get a rise out of you. These people are impossible to please and aren’t looking for resolution, so your attempts to interact with them are just pulling your attention from the followers you do want.
It may even get to the point of swearing, insults or derogatory comments in an attempt to hurt you or the other commenters. While you don’t want to ignore negative comments on a blog in general, in this situation, it’s perfectly acceptable to delete the comments without looking like you hide negative feedback. Like the off-topic person, you should shield your followers from this type of interaction.
With topics that are controversial and polarizing and which tend to attract opposing viewpoints to begin with, this is especially common. It can be infuriating and difficult to ignore, but you can’t get wrapped up in it.
Instead, focus your efforts on engaging with your existing audience and try your best to meet their needs.
Other Tips for Protecting Your Online Community
If you’re tempted to shut off comments to avoid any of these interactions, remember that you’re robbing yourself of valuable engagement with your intended audience. You’re trying to build an online community of like-minded people, which can’t happen if you’re cutting off interactions.
Instead, implement some protective measures to minimize damage and ensure that your brand is always reflected in a positive light.
Community Guidelines: Comment policy and community guidelines that are clearly stated on your site go a long way toward protecting you and your audience from unwanted commenters. While this won’t completely deter the aforementioned people, it will set a tone for how your community is expected to behave and gives you the freedom to delete comments that are negative or damaging without any backlash.
Moderate Comments: Disrespectful and derogatory comments don’t belong on your site, so you can review comments before they appear. In many cases, this will prevent any type of negative interaction from the public eye, as well as take some of the fuel from a troll. For many, this may not be worth the effort, so you’ll need to decide if you have a problem with these types of commenters or if you have a topic that’s likely to attract them.
Delete Comments: Be careful with this method, since you don’t want to appear to be intolerant of any kind of negative feedback. Receiving constructive criticism is valuable for your content moving forward, so you want to create an environment that encourages feedback from your audience. That said, you don’t have to tolerate needlessly negative or insulting comments, and your audience will understand the difference.
Keep Moving Forward
Unpleasant or irrelevant interactions with your audience can take the wind out of your sails, but it doesn’t have to. If you have the traffic to attract these types of people, you likely have loyal followers that vastly outnumber the negative ones, so you’re doing something right.