If you find yourself or your brand being trolled, consider the following tips:
- It’s not you, it’s them: While razor-sharp comments that land on your social feed may feel like a personal attack, don’t take their comments personally. Internet trolls comport themselves much like bullies: they seek attention, smack of negativity, and derive a perceived sense of authority and superiority by intimidating others. Hard though it is to understand, trolls engage in these personal attacks because they enjoy it. Social media channels are the perfect platforms to engage in trolling, especially since their comments are gratifyingly public.
- Consider your response – if any: Social media networks exist on the premise of engagement. Social media campaigns succeed when connections are made between the poster and audience. Posts that fail to resonate and do not garner any meaningful response from viewers lie dormant in a social media feed and slowly – but surely – fade away with time. I chose not to engage in a public war of words with the troll who attempted to antagonize me. Instead, I chose to let the troll’s discourteous rant speak for itself. Sure enough, the troll quickly moved on to its next target.
- Choose your battles (and words) carefully: Words are powerful: choose them carefully. If you do choose to engage your online nemesis, limit the length of your response and refrain from assuming a similar negative voice. A return rant may well be precisely the type of response your troll is seeking! Responding in a positive and respectful voice demonstrates to both the troll and your followers that you (or your brand) attempted to diffuse the situation. If that approach fails, walk away.
- Report threatening and unsavory statements: By demand and necessity, social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have made it easier to report abusive and inappropriate online behavior. Social media accounts can be muted and even blocked from viewing or posting to your social media feed. Egregious behavior should be flagged to the social media network for review and follow-up. If you are being trolled, the troll is likely engaging in the same type of behavior with others as well.
Participation in social media platforms is not always a rich, satisfying and rewarding experience. Trolls will continue their trek through the Internet as long as they continue to have a free platform, a megaphone and the perception that someone will lavish them with the attention they so crave. In all likelihood, you wouldn’t tolerate their bad behavior had you met these trolls in person. Craft any response carefully and escalate and report threatening and abusive posts immediately.