How to deal with social media trolls

Most of the time, ‘troll’ means a small toy with spikey green hair, or a fairy tale character who lives under a bridge. But when it comes to social media, a troll is someone who roams around the internet creating negative conversations between brand and customer. But whilst they’re a headache, having trolls comment on your social posts isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Here, we’ll examine the joys of dealing with social media trolls, and help you figure out what to do when they come a-knocking.

When talking about trolls, there’s one well-used saying in social media: ‘You know you’ve ‘arrived’ when you’ve got trolls commenting on your work’. And it’s so true. So, remember that before you getting annoyed and disheartened by trolls, it’s just something that happens, and that we just have to deal with on a higher intellectual level. Imagine you’re playing a game of chess, and you and the troll are facing off. You each have a chance to make a play, so make your go count! This is where you counteract their fiction with pure, solid, unadulterated facts. But stay cool and measured when you do it.

So, here goes:

Keep calm, stay cool and reply

As brands, we’ve all been on the receiving end of our fair share of troll comments: our gut instinct is to throw our guards up, and bite back. But as a social media account exec, it wouldn’t be my wisest move.

First things first: don’t ignore them. After they post, wait about an hour, and then think about giving a response a go. Trust me (unfortunately), they won’t go away: they live for the spotlight. Since there are no ‘set’ rules on social media, we have to take a step back and see if there is any validity to what they are saying. This will answer the question of what we should reply with. Are they putting forward a genuine complaint, or are they just trying to create an argument? Remember: void all emotion! Don’t take it personally.

If we boil it down, there are two main ways to reply:

  1. Be smart, be witty, and give them something to reply back to. For instance:

Troll: ‘@brand, what, is this app sponsored by the [x] party? #SellOut’

You: ‘Sorry @troll, no free money for us. Can’t argue with people’s responses I’m afraid #DontHateThePlayer’

Obviously, on the latter point, just how ‘edgy’ and witty you can go will depend largely on your brand voice, so tread carefully!

  1. Diffuse, diffuse, and diffuse. If you can’t see the interaction going anywhere productive, end the situation. You don’t have to admit you’re wrong or apologise, just give them what we call a ‘chaser’: acknowledge their good points, but chase it with some facts that sing the praises of either your brand, business, or that just point blank proves them wrong. For instance:

Troll: ‘@brand, downloaded your app and can’t even play the game. #WasteOfSpace’

You: ‘Oh no @troll, we’re sorry you think our game is a waste of space, but 10,000 people have downloaded and loved it. Tried our tech support?’

And if the conversation gets too much? Make it private!

But don’t forget, the more people that follow you, the more people are going to disagree with you: at least it means you’re doing something right to have all these followers in the first place!

‘Kill them with kindness’

We’ve all heard the saying, and know full well that nothing puts out a fire more than someone being nice! Sometimes, that’s the easiest and best route to go down when dealing with trolls. Rise above it: thank them for their view point, however daft, and praise them on their passion when commenting in the first place. *Sound of fire being extinguished*

…but it’s not all bad

Reading this back, I’m clearly quite negative towards social media trolls. If truth be told, not everyone who posts a negative comment on your brand’s Facebook wall is out to get you: some people do have genuine complaints which need to be dealt with in the quickest and easiest way possible. The aim of the game is to keep hold of your customers, and then make more!

Think about the 90:9:1 rule: 90% of your audience are just spectators, 9% are occasional interactors, and only 1% of your audience actually engage with you on a regular basis. We need to look at this as if that 90% are sitting there and watching this negative conversation unfold: they want to see if we’ll swim, or drown. No pressure.

Social media trolls aren’t everywhere and they’re unlikely to cause havoc every working day, but we all know how annoying they can be when they arrive. Try and be nice as possible: social media trolls are people too… kind of?

Featured image: Etsy

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