"Never read the comments" is a familiar maxim told to technologists building products.
It makes sense, right? Users typically only leave feedback after they've either had an extremely poor experience or a positive one.
However, there is value in reading online comments if you frame them correctly.
Building a strong relationship with individuals who are passionate promoters of your products is a crucial strategy for growing a business. You can often find them in the comments! Look beyond traditional "comment boxes" to social media, forums, Slack groups - any online space where communities gather. They're the ones answering questions about your products, sharing your content, and seeking you out at conferences.
Once you've identified them, many opportunities arise. Praise their contributions publicly to the community. Send them swag. Give them early access to new products.
Any effort you put into supporting them will come back to you tenfold.
Ignoring blatantly toxic comments, you'll unveil new insights. Negative comments are often an expression of frustration: the person wants your product to succeed, but is running into issues, and so is reacting in the moment.
The key here is to look beyond the anger. Put yourself in the commenter's shoes: what are they trying to tell you? This approach has led me to identify lots of gaps in products from each of the companies I've worked at.
Due to their anonymous nature, online comments can be some of the nastiest feedback you'll ever receive. However, learning to stomach it is a low friction way to build mental toughness. The ability to shrug off negative feedback is highly valuable for personal and professional growth.
In an ideal world, everyone would be respectful at all times. The reality is that this will never be the case. Of course, if you find yourself overwhelmed by a particularly nasty comment, take a break and move on.
Go back to some of your product's online feedback. What new insights will you gain?