If your business has a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account, you’re probably no stranger to trolls — internet users who love to start arguments and stir up problems. How you deal with these negative folks tells your customers a lot about your company. With the right troll-fighting strategy, you can stay above the fray and make your existing customers feel more loyal to your company.
Learn to Spot the Trolls
Trolls and angry customers aren’t the same thing, though they might seem like it, especially at first. Most trolls are obvious; they use insults and personal attacks, and they often say things simply to stir the pot. When you’re not sure of the motivations of the person you’re dealing with, ask them for more details about their problem. Your customers are likely to do as you ask — after all, they want a solution. If you’re dealing with a troll, your request might simply trigger more attacks or accusations. When you know who’s a troll and who’s not, it’s easier to figure out what to do next.
Choose Not to Engage
The easiest way to deal with a troll is not to engage at all. Why? Most of them just want attention. Delete their comments, block them from your social media pages, and forget about them. If you’re big on transparency, leave the negative posts, but don’t respond. Your customers are smart — they know how to spot a troll. You might even find that loyal customers call out trolls for you in the comments.
Keep Emotion Out of It
Sometimes, you simply have to respond to a troll. That’s fine — it shows other customers that you’re proud of your business and willing to stand up for it. If you go this route, follow one simple rule: keep emotion out of it. This is harder than it sounds, especially when someone is bad-mouthing the company you worked so hard to build.
Remember, a troll likes it when you get upset, so don’t give them the satisfaction. Use facts to shoot down their accusations. If you can, add proof with a website URL or a link to a study. If a troll says, "Your company uses sweatshop labour!" you could respond, "We manufacture all of our products in Canada. Here’s the website for our factory, if you’d like to see our great facilities." In doing so, you can shut down the troll and help your other customers learn about your company.
Don’t be Afraid to Use Humour
Comedy is a great way to shut down a troll. The key? Match the humour to your company’s style. When the UK company Tesco Mobile was trying seem more relatable, it started using comedy to respond to complaints. At one point, someone tweeted, "When you call someone and it goes through to their Tesco Mobile Voicemail… LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL". Instead of ignoring the person, Tesco Mobile responded with, "When you realise your mates are ignoring you LOOOOOOOOL #nojoke". This trolling-the-trolls strategy makes your other followers laugh and humanizes your brand.
Social media trolls are no fun, but once you learn how to deal with them, they’re nothing more than an annoyance. With a great strategy, you can shut down trolling quickly and keep the focus on your campaign.