If you spend time on social media marketing, it is inevitable that you will encounter a troll – someone who has posted purely to start an argument, upset people or generally post offensive content with the objective of getting a response.
So, with this inevitability, what should you do in order to minimise the impact of trolls?
Get a Measuring Tool: This is the first step. There is nothing in the trolling rules which says that all content should be tagged with your company name so that you can see it (although often trolls do this so that they can get the attention!). There are lots of good monitoring tools out there, but do bear in mind that it is tough to track every mention on every social network – conversations between personal Facebook profiles are effectively closed conversations with privacy issues, but on Twitter (unless the account is protected or the dialogue is over DM), the conversation is in the public domain.
Develop a Triage Process: If you don’t have a clear process which you should follow in the event of trolling of your company, you cannot expect to be able to handle it well. You should develop a process where there is a clear chain of command through which any criticism passes with defined responsibilities and outcomes. This will take a lot of the panic away when something negative happens.
Don’t Feed Them: OK, this is a real cliche, but it does work. It is very easy to reply to a troll with anger and emotion, but remember, this is what the troll is hoping for. Doing this will not only satisfy the troll’s appetite, it will also get seen by other people and this is where conversations can escalate – not only in terms of emotion, but also in terms of audience. There are lots of examples of people not following this, and it does not make pretty reading.
Is it really trolling? Every business will receive criticism – it is an inevitable part of running a business. However, criticism or disagreement does not equal trolling. There are no hard and fast rules here, it is a judgement call, but trolls and critics are two totally different groups. Don’t treat both groups with the same response.
Block as a last resort: If all else fails, then you should block the troll – it is likely that they will move on to another ‘project’ pretty quickly.
You really should prepare your marketing campaigns for trolling – it is almost guaranteed to happen to you, so preparing for it will ensure that their impact, and emotional response, is kept to a minimum – good for your community and you.