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social media how toDo your social media accounts get negative comments?

Have social media trolls wreaked havoc for your business?

How you respond to trolls can impact your brand and reputation. A few tactics can help you defuse the negative situation in the best possible way.

In this article I’ll share how to respond to social media trolls, as well as how basic guidelines keep your community troll-free.

deal with social media trolls

Discover how to deal with social media trolls.

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What Are Trolls?

Trolls are the people online who purposefully stir up trouble in social media communities. It’s important for companies to deal effectively with trolls so they don’t tarnish your brand and sully your online presence.

#1: Use Humor Tactfully

An effective way to disarm a troll is to use humor.

For example, Sainsbury’s, a grocery chain in the United Kingdom, responded to a chicken critic in a lighthearted way with a similar metaphor.

sainsburys response tweet

Sainsbury’s responded to humorous criticism in kind.

Sainsbury’s response is excellent for a few reasons. First and foremost, they didn’t ignore this customer’s tweet. They recognized the problem (bad chicken), apologized and offered a witty reply on the same level as the criticism. They turned a negative comment into an engagement opportunity. Their reply resulted in 141 retweets and 72 favorites.

A troll blamed O2, a UK SMS system, for a girl not responding to his texts. O2 responded with a humorous recommendation.

o2 response tweet

@O2 called out and disarmed this troll with a tweet that was retweeted more than 200 times and received 100+ favorites.

When you make light of a troll’s tweet, you simultaneously acknowledge and defuse the situation.

#2: Counter Fiction With Fact

If trolls are spreading rumors, tweeting wrong information or posting inaccuracies, nip it in the bud. The best way to disprove tales told by trolls is with facts.

Remember bendgate? Apple’s release of the new iPhone 6 didn’t go as smoothly as planned. With rumors that the phone could bend in your pocket came the infamous hashtag #bendgate, and a lot of trolling.

#bendgate tweet

Trolls posted a lot of gags as they jumped on the Apple iPhone 6 #bendgate bandwagon.

It seems many Internet trolls were creatively inspired by #bendgate rumors.

#bendgate tweet

No doubt about it. Internet trolls had a blast making fun of the iPhone6 #bendgate.

Apple took a stand and responded to this crisis. The company admitted the phones could bend, but said it wouldn’t typically happen with normal iPhone use.

Turns out bendgate was much ado about very little. Apple received only nine complaints about bending, and shared that information as well.

#bendgate response tweet from apple

Apple responded to the rumors of bending iPhones with facts.

Apple chose to address the issue head-on. They admitted there was an issue and that the issue affected very few customers. In doing so, they were able to stop any further controversy.

#3: Don’t Join the Trolls

Commenters, followers and fans aren’t the only trolls on the Internet. Sometimes brands become the offenders. “Corporate trolling” is when companies troll their fans.

There is a fine line between being fun and engaging and simply being offensive. It’s better to err on the side of nice than what could be perceived as nasty.

In its efforts to make its brand more appealing to young people, Tesco Mobile started its #nojoke campaign. Basically, their Twitter admins responded to negative tweets about Tesco Mobile by poking fun at their haters.

tesco response tweet

Tesco’s #nojoke campaign rode the line between funny and snarky.

As mentioned above, responding with humor is a good thing. However, it’s much better when your jokes are actually funny.

tesco #nojoke response tweet

Tesco’s company trolling tactics got a lot of engagement, but were borderline obnoxious.

Fans tend to be more forgiving of a large brand than a small one that’s still finding its tone and voice.

Until your company hits the “big time,” you’re better off making a good impression of being kind and likable. Don’t become a troll. Instead, focus on dealing with your own trolls.

How to Keep Your Community Troll-Free

When it comes to dealing with trolls, knowledge of your online space is key. Here are tips on how to protect your online community.

1. Be an active member of your community. Closely monitor the conversations of your followers and fans on your social media channels. That way you can step in if trolling or bullying becomes a problem. Read all of your comments so you know the context and can respond appropriately.

2. Set boundaries. If you have a troll problem or want to make sure you don’t run into one, set guidelines for your community to manage expectations. Post online etiquette in a visible place on your social channels or share a link to a blog post on the subject.

shutterstock 235399876 guidelines icon

Make sure you have guidelines in place. Image: Shutterstock.

Guidelines should be reasonable (for example: no abusive language, no harmful remarks, no bullying), but not too harsh. Also, let your community know what will happen to people who cross the line. Will you delete their comments? Ban the user? The goal isn’t to completely obliterate all negative comments, it’s to make the community a safe place for your fans.

3. Always be nice. Treat all your fans, followers and trolls kindly. Behind every troll lies a real, breathing person who has feelings. In most cases trolls are looking for a reaction. Just keep your cool when the going gets tough.

The worst way to deal with a troll, hater or even just a disgruntled customer is to be impatient, sarcastic or combative. Just “don’t feed the trolls,” and you’ll be fine.

Conclusion

As tough as it may seem to deal with trolls, there is a way to do it with grace. Just keep your cool. Use humor, facts and kindness in responding to trolls, and you’ll make your community a safe and fun place for everyone.

Trolls are people too, and respect is the best policy online. Keep that in mind when interacting with people on the web, and you’ll find it’s a piece of cake to tame the trolls.

What do you think? Have you had problems with Internet trolls? How did you deal with them? What advice do you have to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Guidelines icon photo from Shutterstock.
how to deal with social media trolls

Tips for dealing with social media trolls.

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  • I think using humor against trolls is one of the most dangerous
    tactics. In order to do that you should know your audience very good and
    the audience must know you just as well. Because, one misunderstanding could cause many negative reactions which could spread through internet very quickly.

    However,
    if used accurately it could even go viral and bring you more new
    customers and fans. It depends on your audience and what risks are you
    willing to take.

  • Backdrifter

    I think the definition of ‘troll’ in the above article is rather tame. Most of us would think of trolls as the persistent and extremely nasty posters of hate-filled messages, including into threads discussing sad events such as deaths. In these cases the best approach is to ignore them.

  • Anna Franklin

    Great blog post, Rachel. What are your thoughts on ignore online and then address privately? I had this conversation with someone recently and I thought it would be better to at least acknowledge the criticism and then deal directly offline/direct. Otherwise others who may have seen the comment may think we’ve not addressed it. I’m really interested to know your thoughts. Thanks!

  • Anna Franklin

    Great blog post, Rachel. What are your thoughts on ignore online and then address privately? I had this conversation with someone recently and I thought it would be better to at least acknowledge the criticism and then deal directly offline/direct. Otherwise others who may have seen the comment may think we’ve not addressed it. I’m really interested to know your thoughts. Thanks!

  • There are varying level of troll it seems and the best way to deal with them will depend on the size of business and time devoted to responses. It is good advise to not feed the trolls at any time. 🙂

  • If I comment here disagreeing with this post does that make me a troll by your definitions? I don’t think any of your definitions of a “troll”, which is an old online term no one uses today, is way off base. People can dislike or disagree with your brand and not be a troll.

    I’d only consider someone a “troll” (again no one except on Social Media Examiner seem to use this phrase) if they were using a fake name and commenting negatively on every post, tweet, video, etc.

    In today’s social with most using their real name this just doesn’t happen as much, except maybe on YouTube.

  • Pingback: How to Deal With Social Media Trolls | MarketingHits.com()

  • Emmett Hughes

    Rachel,

    Great post – we see trolls on our social media sites all the time. Great entertainment value for our team?

    What’s your approach to blog comment trolls?

    Emmett

  • Rachel Wisuri

    Hey there!

    I definitely agree. Using humor must be done carefully, and you definitely don’t want to come off as sarcastic or mean. But like you said, if it’s done right, it can help you make the most of a bad situation.

  • Rachel Wisuri

    Hey Scott,

    I definitely agree that a person can dislike or disagree with a brand and not be a troll. And by disagreeing with my post, no, I don’t think you’re a troll! I welcome your point of view. 🙂 I hope it didn’t come off that I think *anyone* who simply disagrees with a brand is a troll — that was certainly not my intention.

    But, if a person is expressing their disagreement/dislike in a way that is intentionally harmful or mean or threatening, or makes the community an unsafe place for others, then that would be troll territory in my eyes.

  • Rachel Wisuri

    Hi Emmett,

    Thanks for your comment! It’s good to see you’re taking the trolling on your social media accounts in stride. 🙂

    I moderate a few blogs, and for all of them, I’ve chosen to *not* have comments automatically appear on the blog, but instead, they pass through a moderation system (aka, me!) before they get approved. The blogs I moderate are all education-related, and it’s important to me that blog commenters (most all of whom are students) are nice to each other, and that they help to create an environment where everyone feels safe, smart, and willing to ask for help. This is why I’ve chosen to approve comments before they get posted — I want to make sure no one is making rude comments about another student’s intelligence, for example, or just generally being mean in a way that would discourage learning.

    Do you moderate your comments before they get approved? What’s your stance on that?

  • Rachel Wisuri

    Hey Anna,

    Thanks for the question! I think ignoring online + addressing privately is a perfectly valid approach! That gives you the chance to talk to the commenter/troll on a personal level to see where they’re coming from, and to let them know where you’re coming from too. 🙂

  • Rachel Wisuri

    Definitely. 🙂

  • Rachel Wisuri

    I agree!

  • Anna Franklin

    Thanks, Rachel. 🙂

  • Great post Rachel! Many people recommend you simply ignore trolls and don’t respond in any way, but this gives the trolls even more power as it gives them the power to silence you. Instead, ignore the troll but address the problem with the “audience” in a matter of fact way. Do NOT respond in a manner that stoops to the troll’s level or you risk two outcomes: 1) Feeding the troll and engaging in an unwinnable argument that will escalate, or 2) having the “audience” see you as another irritant/troll rather than as the balanced, decent and aggrieved party.

  • facebook.com/tbsappliance

    Hi Rachel,
    Once you’ve handled the issue privately, would it then be appropriate to delete the original comment, leave it as is, or reply to it with a message addressing the individual and thanking them for taking the time to chat privately…etc?
    My thought is to do the latter so that your audience can see that you are mature and peofessional in handling negative feedback such as “trolling”.
    What’s your thought on that?
    Thanks! Julie

  • Lars

    They don´t like people without social media accounts to comment because we are accused of beeing trolls. So billions of people are mean, harassing, using bad language, bullies, and all other negative things they can think of. I believe in rights to secrecy and privacy you don´t.