Online trolls are the bane.of.my.existence. With empathy at the top of my Strengths Finder results, it was a rough adjustment when I started managing pages for clients.
Picture, if you will, a newlywed at dinner with her husband. The waitress fills their glasses, the couple raises a toast to a busy and successful week. They both smile. They’re tired and happy. It’s Friday evening. And then a phone dings. The woman picks up her iPhone, as prompt responses are important in her industry. She frowns. She types. She frowns.
Turns out, giving people the anonymity of a computer screen can make things ugly.
“I’ve seen the worst of humanity,” Cross-Industry Social Media Manager Linda Dianne says, quite relatably, describing the “harsh reality” of social media management for business.
Fortunately, trolls no longer have much control over my joy. Through trial, error and a little research, I’ve got some effective tools in my belt to deal with these negativity promoters.
If you’re in need of some troll management strategies, read on.
Before you respond online, it’s important to have an accurate narrative. Most difficult internet communication comes from unhappy or scared people who disconnect social media from the real world. Having this perspective makes it easier to calmly give them grace and respond appropriately. If you’re angry, back away for an hour, then re-address and choose your strategy.
Consider a “No Trolls” Policy, and Designate a Moderator
You wouldn’t leave your front door open, allowing a stranger to walk into your living room and berate your family. And you shouldn’t let a stranger hop on your social media pages and extensively berate your business. Set boundaries and clear expectations, and start with assigning a boundary enforcer.
Have a designated employee who fields comments, taking one of the effective actions listed below.
First, For the Love of All Things Holy, IGNORE Them When You Must
Seriously, there are times you can completely ignore people. It takes practice to gauge the ignorable jerks and the reasonable, respondable jerks. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.
If they are throwing around profanities, clearly under the influence, or relentlessly badgering you, just let it go. Let them type away, hide their comments, and move on with your life. (Click on the comment and select the “hide” button that pops up.) This will make their comments only visible to them, preventing them from attacking you for deleting comments, AND preventing any other trolls from joining their cause.
Second, If You Can’t Ignore Them, Address Any Lies
If said troll is posting something completely untrue, respond gently with facts. For example, if you’re running for a political office (making yourself a troll magnet), and someone comments, “All of her funding is from xyz corporation. Don’t believe the lies!” You can respond with a photo of an official document showing where your donations come from, including, “Oh, I’m sorry you received some false information. I’m actually funded by this, this and that. Thank you for the opportunity to clear this up.”
Responding with truth is a great way to disarm a troll.
Third, Be Shockingly Kind
This one is my favorite, and the most effective! Never repay meanness with meanness. If this person has come far enough to post something terrible on your page, they’re likely ready for a fight. Step back, take a breath, and type up something kind. This has been more than 95 percent effective in my experience! Trolls often deflate quickly.
“I’m sorry you had a bad experience. We’d love to make it up to you!” Or, if someone comments that another business is better, you can say something like, “So-and-so is awesome! There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. We hope you’ll give us a chance sometime soon!”
Fourth, Be Funny
This is my second favorite tactic. Just make sure you’re being kind, too, even if you throw in a little sass. Gifs are awesome, too. Throw out a “shocked looking” or “remorseful” gif, then use kind words. Tread lightly here, and be creative.
Fifth, Take the High Road
This applies to all of the above. Don’t stoop to their level. Make sure you can see the situation clearly and objectively, so you don’t wind up the butt of a joke in a BuzzFeed article.
Treat the troll how you want to be treated.
Finally, know when to ban a user. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, your business, and the entire internet. Just click and hold on that nasty, threatening or inappropriate comment, then click that beautiful red “ban user” button and do a happy dance.
Do you have any crazy troll stories? Any tips for handling them? We’d love to hear them on our Facebook page or the blog!
Until next time.