How to Respond to Social Media Trolls
Beware. They’re lurking everywhere… even behind a computer near (or maybe not so near) you.
When social media hit the scene, the concept of trolls turned from creatures who hide under bridges to scare children, to people who hide behind computer screens to upset others. Whether you are a business or use social media just for personal enjoyment, it is likely that you will encounter a troll at some point in time. They will tweet or post something that gets under your skin. They will reply to a comment in a way that makes your blood boil. The information they share may or may not be true, and it is your job to decide how you will react.
Encountering them is inevitable. But when it comes to your business, how you handle the trolls says a lot more about you than it does them.
Here are 4 tips for how you can, and should, deal with a troll.
1. Ignore them. This advice is easier said than done. Our first inclination is to defend ourselves or our brand. If someone types a rude comment or something we don't agree with on our social media posts, we want to jump in to defend our honor. The goal of a troll is to get you to engage. They want to disrupt your schedule by getting you into a back-and-forth social media match. Don't give in to the temptation!
This suggestion comes with a caveat. If a troll is spreading misinformation about your brand or business, you should consider starting with our second suggestion.
2. Respond with facts. If someone is spreading misinformation on your social accounts, respond using facts. Keep your response as neutral as possible in terms of the other wording you use. Again, if you share facts to clear up misinformation, but pepper in jabs at the troll, you are giving them what they want. Your response says more about you than it does them.
As an example:
John Smith: Your restaurant is never open for dinner when I come by… I’m not going to try again.
Restaurant: We’re sorry we missed you, John! Our dinner hours are 4 - 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday. It sounds like you may have visited us on a Monday evening when we close our business for family time. We hope you may consider joining us another evening in the future.
In this example, the Restaurant remained calm, cool and collected in their response instead of getting defensive about the original poster’s claim that they are “never open.”
3. Take the conversation offline. The troll’s goal is engagement and getting a rise out of you. When appropriate, particularly if a claim is made against you or your business, offer to take the conversation offline. Your post, tweet or response may reference their claim or statement, followed by something like: We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you further. Please message us your phone number and some times that might work for you for a phone call.
Most trolls will not message you. Many will leave the conversation at this point, as you’ve proven that you will not engage.
4. Know that you are ultimately in control... block them. As a business, we truly feel blocking someone is a last resort. If negative behavior continues after you have tried the above positive approaches, however, it may be time to part ways. The good news is, you are in control. You can unfriend, unfollow and block them from being able to comment on your content.
It bears repeating… how you handle a troll says more about you than it does the troll. Be sure that the way you engage reflects positively on your brand and on you.