Online trolls are inevitable, regardless of whether you’re a business, influencer, casual blogger, or an innocent person that just wants to use social media now and then. For a brand, trolls infect everyone who reads their posts. They spread negativity, and all-too-often goad us into negative interactions that do nothing to bolster our brand.
The old saying “don’t feed the trolls” is one we’ve all heard and know to be sound advice. However, most people tend to react and want to fight back when they’re attacked. This is human nature, but there’s a right and wrong way to deal with even the most negative minded trolls online.
The true nature of the typical Internet troll…
It’s important to realize that they’re not really attacking you. They’re attacking your success, your good looks, the fact that deep down inside, they’re jealous of what you have — or perceive you to have. Trolls are isolated from the world, and not living the life they envisioned for themselves when they were a child.
Heck, they might be an unhappy child looking for attention in the only way they know how — Ie., being negative and inviting confrontation. In the end, online trolls exist because they’re rarely placed in a situation where they have to answer for the negativity and spit they’re spreading. Think how rare it is to click on a troller’s profile on Instagram to find a legitimate, active user posting pictures of themselves, their family, and friends.
Let’s look at way to best deal with these trolls without going down to their level, and damaging your brand.
You can ignore trolls if you wish.
If someone appears to be legitimately attacking a flaw in your brand, you must respond. A legitimate attack is easy to differentiate from a trolling comment. They’ll usually be from someone using an established account, and though potentially negative, the commenter will list valid points because they want their issues to be acknowledged and responded to. Positive, non confrontational comments from you, followed by an invitation to contact you for more dialogue is a great way to cement your brand’s positivity.
However, a troll is only looking to be negative and likely hoping for a negative response from you or your company. They’ll have notifications of responses pushed to their junk email accounts, and be right there waiting for you to respond. Whether your response is negative or positive, they’ll happily keep pushing your buttons in hopes of creating chaos for your brand. Ignoring truly trollish comments won’t hurt your brand.
Respond with light-hearted humor.
Sometimes you know you’re dealing with a troll. Sometimes it’s tough to tell. Either way, light-hearted, non-confrontational humor is always a great way to make light of a troll’s comments. This Social Media Examiner post offers some hilarious examples of how potentially trolling comments can be dealt with.
Not only do the responses offered in the linked post show the brand read the comment, but some of them even ‘slight’ the troll’s comments in a hilarious way. Check out the response from the UK SMS system O2 to a user claiming they screwed up his relationship status because they failed to send over 200 texts to a girl he was interested in: “Hi ____, that’s a lot of texts! Maybe next time you should send 1 text to 246 girls…” Epic!
Focus on your brand and let your community police trolls.
Some brands, like Tim Ferriss’s blog, don’t allow any form of trolling or even more than mild negativity. This might seem like a great idea, but it’s really hard to pull off. It takes time to police comments and/or money to pay moderators and outsourcers to approve or take them down.
If you’re truly confident in your branding and the community you’ve built or are building, let your blog and social media followers police your comments for you. They’ll dig the trolls out of their dens and expose them for what they are. When this happens, you can respond to your saviors or smash on the like button to let them know you appreciate them taking the time.
Again, “don’t feed the trolls.” They want recognition they simply don’t have the talent or personality to get through legitimate needs. Focus on your brand and let the trolls move on to a more willing victim.
Main Image Credit: Nautil.us