I have a big ole hug for thehanterman1. He says my video put him to sleep. I also have a big ole hug for snapjockey. He said my video sound was "crap".
You ought to save some hugs for your haters, too.
I just read the book "Hug Your Haters," by Jay Baer. With his subtitle, "how to embrace your complaints and keep your customers," Jay is clearly speaking to business owners and marketing professionals.
But I wondered, doesn't this message apply to photographers as well?
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Maybe hug your haters should apply to us. We not only take photographs, but we post them in public places. We share our images with a little piece of our soul embedded in each file.
When a hater attacks our work, it feels personal. It's like they attacked us.
We all know about the haters. I describe them as the people who leave mean spirited comments that have no helpful or constructive value. All haters want to do is throw up on your work and leave. Who needs them, right?
We do - and we ought to thank them for their hate. Huh?
How did Jay come up with this idea anyway? It seems he surveyed 2,000 Americans who complained about a business. The results uncovered what we might call the science of hate. Insert maniacal laugh here.
Now the study results uncover a number of helpful insights for the business world. But here are a few takeaways for us as creatives.
Haters are your early warning detection system
You posted your latest photo that most people thoughtfully commented "nice pic," but what about the person who called it crappy and cliche?
After venting about the ridiculous comment — in your mind — maybe pause to see if there might be any truth tucked away inside. Is it cliche? Have you seen that idea too many times already? Did you do anything different with your interpretation?
The guy who said my video had crappy sound had a point. It wasn't the best sound. At some point, I rationalized that it was good enough and shipped it anyway. Time to move on to the next product.
Perhaps I will take more care the next time. In spite of the mean-spirited delivery, there was a learning opportunity.
In most cases you already know what you do well. Your hater might point out where you can do better.
You should know your haters
There are two types of haters — the offstage hater and onstage hater.
The offstage hater will send you an email or give you a call. This hater will let you know that you have disappointed him, but he will deliver his message directly.
The onstage hater will simply post in public. She has something to say about your crap, and she doesn't care who knows it. In fact, she wants others to know it.
You probably know the difference intuitively. Your offstage hater wants an answer; your onstage hater wants an audience.
Knowing what your hater ultimately wants should influence how you respond.
If your offstage hater wants a response, there is an easy solution. Hear them out, and try to resolve any issues. This works better in customer service situations but what about photographers?
In response to a harsh critique, you might take the opportunity to probe. What specifically offends you so greatly? Why does it matter to you? How would you do it differently? You might find that offering a listening ear might soften your critic and provide you helpful feedback.
When I worked in public relations, I had a boss once who would always counsel me to "answer the real question. What does this person really want? What is she really asking us? Go back and answer that."
Your onstage hater wants an audience, when you respond, remember you are responding to everyone. Direct your conversation to the individual, but be mindful there is an audience.
In customer service situations, businesses acknowledge the complaint, empathise and move the conversation offline.
You can take a similar approach to your photography onstage haters. Back when I was an editor, I would respond to snarky letters to the editor by thanking them for reading.
Where an explanation is warranted, offer one. Where you learned something useful, it's ok to admit. In most cases a polite thank you works.
Here's the thing. Your onlookers will also recognize a jerk. This person wants an audience while being a jerk? Good. Now you have an audience to show a contrast the jerk and you. So many people online want to be sarcastic and snarky that you can stand out by just being kind.
Does it work?
Jay Baer says there is a 30 percent increase in customer advocacy by responding to a single complaint.
What if that goodwill transferred? What if a response increased the number of people who liked you and advocated for your photography by a third? How much faster could you grow your online following? How much faster could you increase the number of people who are willing to share your great photos?
Is it worth finding out?
The message is clear. The next time your haters tick you off, just hug 'em.