Have you ever heard of the phrase “Do not feed the troll”? If not, you are either not working in social media or you are lucky enough to be under their radar. Most clients we work with encounter trolls from time to time, which is why we ant to share our troll the trolls 101.
What is a troll?
A troll is someone who participates in your social community in a disturbing way. Your social community is your digital platforms. This can be a fan on Facebook, a LinkedIn member – anyone who has access to your posts or tweets and an account on the respective platform.
The term troll derives from a practice in fishing where you pull a hook and line through the water, hoping for prey to bite.
What makes these users trolls is that they start or join a conversation and – no matter how hard you try to keep it professional and polite – deliberately disrupt the communication flow by starting arguments for the sake of being annoying.
What is their motivation?
Trolls can have different reasons to engage with you. It can be a dissappointing customer experience with your brand, a personal vendetta, sheer boredom or an unprofessional competitor in need of attention or funding. No matter what the reasons might be, trolls generally seek attention. Their intention is to cause trouble or harm instead of constructive discourse, which sets them apart from e.g. disappointed customers just trying to be heard.
How can you handle a troll?
This is a tough one. As a rule of thumb, we recommend to stay calm at first. Do not delete comments unless they are clearly below the line. Ignore these comments and wait. If the troll does not stop without you giving him any reason to harrass you, try to lead them off your platforms. This can be a direct message, an email, a call – you name it. Just try to calm them down, find out what the actual problem is and get it solved. And please – by all means – try to stay diplomatic, meet them with kindness and take them seriously. They might turn into customers or brand advocates after all.
What if nothing helps?
Some trolls do not want to settle an argument. they want to keep it up and public. Legal point of view aside (you can definitely be sued for trolling resp. for your statements in case they are unlawful), social networks have mechanisms in place that allow you to handle a troll. You can delete comments, block the trolls, report them so they get ultimately kicked off the platform (and thus their stage).
How to really troll the trolls
No matter what you do – if you really want to troll the trolls you should not feed them to give them public space. Ignore them patiently until they are shut off by either the platform, your lawyers or the community itself.
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