Social Trolls exist for one purpose and that is to disrupt your online karma. They truly have nothing better to do than bash you or your brand. There must be some sick enjoyment reaped on their part from causing you discomfort. These are the same people in life who complain about everything, call the manager the minute their pizza is delivered beyond the promised time even if there is five feet of freshly fallen snow. The same people that claim their bill never arrived in the mail who want a refund on the late fee. The very same people who would make fun of a boy who wears suits to school. Really? These are what I like to refer to as Cyber Bullies. The people and sometimes brands, who love to cause a ruckus just to see what happens. These groups are the Sid’s (Sid from Toy Story) of the world who find joy in abusing the rest of us for pleasure.
These people make me crazy but they exist and not dealing with them can be worse than actually hitting their issues head on. There are some standard methods to diffuse trolls, none of which are any different from handling the real life bully from middle school who liked to trip you while you carried your lunch tray in the cafeteria. No different than the rich girls who made fun of the girls who wore Toughskin jeans because their parents didn’t have money for designer jeans. Yes, I was a Toughskin girl and lived through many moments of torture at the hands of the privileged princess’ back in the day. If you find your brand under the attack of a Troll take a deep breath and try one or all of these suggestions.
- Kill them with kindness. Bullies don’t have much of a defense against kindness, in fact it irritates them and drives them away. You may even try some humor if appropriate but never make light of real issues or problems with humor. There is a time and place for jokes and lightheartedness and it is your job to know when that is.
- Always tell the truth. Sometimes people complain because of misunderstandings or ignorance to facts which is not to say or imply that anyone is in fact ignorant by nature. Just wanted to be clear there, As that brand, when a person or Troll brings up something negative try to read through the nastiness of the comment to see if the complaint has validity. If not, you should clarify, in the same social space, the facts so others are not confused or misled by the complaint.
- Do not get into a bashing contest. Addressing concerns are very different from name slinging and brand bashing. Do not stoop to the Trolls level in retribution for their comments. State the facts then invite them to a sidebar conversation for resolution. Remember to always be respectful and as polite as possible during your interaction. Anything other will simply fuel their fire.
- Don’t worry about them. Your followers were with you before your Troll paid a visit and they will be with you long afterwards too. You have a reputation that got you where you are and barring a bad one, it will remain intact because of the hard work you have put in to establish and grow it. You can’t make everyone happy no matter what you sell. This is just a fact.
A Troll can be anyone from an insecure or jealous competitor to an upset customer. They thrive on trying to put you in the spotlight hoping to create havoc and create questions in the minds of your followers. They specialize in online poisoning and the worst thing you can do is treat them as anything other than a nuisance with a badge. You must address them since online they appear to others as just another customer (hence the inference to the badge. Customers are king). It is HOW you address them and their concerns that make the difference between coming out looking good and looking like the truth is surfacing.
As business’ with an online presence, it is up to us to vet out the Trolls from the people with real concerns. We are the leaders and need to act as such setting an example for all to follow. The days of the high school after school mud slinging yard fights are over and we have grown up (hopefully) into our adult selves serving the public and providing services. You don’t have to ignore Trolls, you just need to know how to handle them in a productive and positive manner.
Have you ever dealt with a Social Troll? Tell us about it here.