5 Tips for Handling Social Media Negativity for Ad Agency New Business

You can’t let a few negative people dictate how you use social media for ad agency new business.

Unless you are Rush Limbaugh, most of us don’t enjoy having others say negative things about us. We have a desire to be liked. But please know that if  you participate in social media you are guaranteed to get some negative comments. The larger your followers, the more negative comments you can expect.

Some of this negativity can be very rude and nasty. But you can’t let a few negative people dissuade you for using social media for agency new business.

At times early adopters of social media or those that are using it strictly for personal pleasure can act as though they have been sworn-in as a special social media detective ready  and willing to point out when people are using it incorrectly from their point-of-view. But if you can’t build relationships, generate leads and build your business through social media, you are wasting valuable time.

Here are of my 5 tips for handling negativity:

1Consider the source.

When I receive a negative comment to a blog post or through Twitter, the very first thing I do is a little background check of that person.  I can soon ascertain if  they are normally negative and love to play the devils advocate with others or if they are a respected social media participant and/or a member of my online community. I consider the source before I choose to even respond.

For instance, if someone pops off with a negative response to me through Twitter, they are not in the advertising industry and have less than a 100 Twitter followers, why would I even respond to their negative comment and then expose it to my 25,000 + followers?  I would probably choose to “unfollow” them and even “block” them from following my Twitter account.

2. Know upfront, everyone isn’t going to like you.

I like it when people like me and no matter the source, it often bothers me if someone doesn’t. But, that is life. You are going to have an appeal to a certain audience and to others you will have little or no appeal. To have success in social media, you cannot be all things to all people. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.

3. Be thick-skinned but not hard-headed.

When you get through some of the negativity as a participant in social media, you can develop a thick skin and not let negative comments affect you, or not take it so personal if someone unfollows you in Twitter. But when you are generating lots of negative comments or unfollows it pays to take note and reevaluate your social media tactics. Do pay attention to those that you are trying to reach. They will help you to hone your appeal.

4. Learn from your mistakes then let it go.

I once had an intern that I was paying to do research. The person came up with a great list of companies who were using social media and how they were participating. I wrote an article and published the list on my blog.

A week later, while I was on vacation, I received a very angry voice mail from a highly respected, early adopter of social media who wanted to know why I had stolen his list. I was mortified, did some quick research and discovered my list was exactly the same as his, even the fonts. What I felt was beyond embarrassment, but I made a quick call to apologize and immediately took down the article. I now always double-check my sources.

Take your lumps when you’ve made a mistake, learn from it and then let it go.

5.  Follow the Golden Rule.

Be nice. Simply follow the Golden Rule and “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” There’s a huge difference between helpful criticism and being a jerk.

I speak from experience when I tell you that the positives far outweigh the negatives for your participation in social media. It provides a multiplicity of benefits. The greatest being your personal and professional enrichment. That it can generate agency new business is like icing on the cake.


About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. You have included some great tips although I think for someone reading this post new to handling conversations via this channels sending the message of verifying how many followers they have to make a decision on either block or unfollow might need a bit more explanation.

    I understand that responding will only have there voice heard over your community but some people have influence elsewhere which sometimes is very difficult to measure.

    I treat everyone the same and really go towards the intent and history of the person no matter how many contacts they have.

    I will be sharing this post with a few people great job.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Raul. Very much appreciated.

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