How to deal with social media trolls

The trolls! Internet trolls are a nuisance, can case huge damage by getting their kicks out of upsetting people, causing arguments, and generally being a complete and utter nuisance. You may have giggled at the antics of a troll at one time or another or maybe you have argued online, with a troll who went too far?

For businesses, dealing with trolls can be daunting, intimidating and difficult. When the general rule of thumb is, ‘the customer is always right’, and ‘don’t argue with customers’, it is easy to see why so many people panic or over-react when they are faced with a troll.

Here’s our take on dealing with trolls and some simple pest control tactics! Make them part of your reputation management plan.

If you are attacked by trolls, the first thing is, don’t panic. Address any issues with a clear and professional head. And don’t take anything a troll says personally, even if they try to make it personal, they are just baiting you, so don’t react.

Sometimes a company will inadvertently post content which people disagree with or object to.  Sometimes customers will express their displeasure about a certain product or service. These people are not trolls, they are simply unhappy customers. Most trolls are not customers at all, just individuals with too much time on their hands, looking for someone to aggravate. Learning to recognise a troll is the first step to tackling them.

Trolls are the people who deliberately post comments designed to be controversial, illicit a response, or start a heated debate. Twitter and Facebook are amongst the favoured stomping grounds of the internet troll.

Trolls post at an incredible rate and frequency across a number of platforms. They tend to be well informed, with their eye on trending topics. Wherever an incendiary topic is being discussed, you can be sure a troll is not too far away.

Trolls use harsh, unkind, sarcastic, and argumentative language. They are probably not bad, angry people, they think this behaviour is funny, but their ‘game’ is to be as objectionable as possible in order to illicit an extreme reaction.

Trolls will not have a reasonable argument, won’t listen to other’s opinions, and will not present their argument well, or with any logic.

Trolls hide their true identities. They will hide behind fake accounts, there will be no profile picture, or they will use a generic image. We’ve even seen trolls using images of Trolls.

Reputation management is all about being prepared for trouble and dealing with it effectively, before any lasting or permanent damage is done to your brand.  Dealing with trolls is part of this management process. Don’t react to trolls. If you spot one, take a few minutes to consider your options. You can ask them to leave your page. You can point out their inappropriate behaviour, or you can simply remove and block them. You choose the best option for you. But remember, even asking them to stop is a reaction to their trolling.

Don’t feed the trolls! If they see you are reacting to their behaviour, they will continue to misbehave. If you respond, you are opening up dialogue and entering dangerous territory. We believe it is best to act decisively and firmly by first making sure they are a troll and not an unhappy customer, removing the offending remarks, and then removing them from the page. It is simple, quick, effective and involves no drama.