Do you have a troll? Face it head on

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When you are in charge of handling the social networks of a brand, one of the most delicate situations that can arise is when you come face to face with a negative critique or a negative comment.

Sometimes the issue is simply a user’s problem or some erroneous information, situations, which we can handle in a simple and constructive manner. But sometimes, it can be a user’s comment which clearly wants to provoke problems, grab attention and cause trouble, in other words a troll. Therefore, the very first step one must take is to analyze the situation and establish what kind of user he or she is dealing with.

Once we have figured out that the user is a troll, we can follow a set of guidelines that will help us deal with this troll on social networks. We’ve previously spoken about a communications crisis on this blog and we know that, like with everything in communications, a foolproof set of guidelines does not exist and each situation requires a particular and unique form of management.

We ought to select the option which best fits with our management style, our brand and the type of troll we are faced with. In any case, we ought to ensure that our responses are aligned with our brand’s style and guidelines.


Listen and right your wrongs if there are any

So, whether it’s a simple complaint from a client or a troll, this first stage is pretty much handled in the same way. Firstly, we have to listen to what the person has to say and pay attention to the wording. Once the message has been read, if we really have committed an error, it is important to correct it as quickly as possible and explain to the user what we have done and why (if the situation calls for it).

If the person complaining is a disgruntled customer because they face a problem or they are upset about something, it is certainly advantageous to make them feel heard and taken care of. In fact, a situation like this, if handled well can actually end up transforming the client´s initial anger and frustration into something positive for the Brand that actually increases users’ brand confidence.

If the person making the complaint is actually a troll, then we have to consider how our response can help and reassure the community. The professional measures we take will demonstrate to the other users, who make up the community, that their opinions are heard and taken into account. Moreover, a clear, transparent and decisive response also will make it clear to the troll that we will not stoop to their level, and, thus, make it less likely that he or she tries to cause problems for us again in the future.


Ignore them

If a person is really a troll, whose objective is basically to annoy and to cause negative reactions, a common way to deal with it is simply to ignore the troll.

To chase up the trolls is fundamentally to give them attention, but using the strategy of ignoring them is to say to him or her that we will not enter their game. This results in taking away their strength and probably forcing them to search for another place to get attention and achieve their objectives.

This may be the best option in certain situations but there is no guarantee that it will always solve the situation. Especially considering that, although we may ignore the issue, it might be the case that other members in the community help said individual achieve their aims. The other members would probably do this out of a desire to help or aid someone they believe to be a normal user with a problema.

If this is the case, I recommend changing the strategy in order to deal with the troll, since, by this point, inaction is not an option and a response will probably be necessary.


Data, Data and more Data

If the troll is keen to spread false rumours and lies, this is probably the best option. In a clear and polite manner, provide data that is true and correct the troll’s false information.

Although we know that the troll is not interested in correct information, our response is intended more for the rest of the community. The aim is to stop any false source of information becoming a rumour which spreads and is shared and might result in negative consequences for our brand’s reputation.


If you have to block the troll, do it

In the majority of cases, trolls are inoffensive, although there is no doubt that sometimes they can be very annoying and give us a hard time but that is about it.

However, there are some cases when trolls take things too far and in these situations it is necessary to take a firm stand.

If their comments reveal a complete lack of respect or include threats, it is reasonable to block them.

For these situations, the best thing to do is to reinforce social network rules and remind the community of these rules.


Get creative and turn it around

Sometimes, to ignore them does not silence them and to respond in a polite and correct manner with data that proves their information is wrong, does not achieve positive results. On these occasions, when a troll insists on creating problems for us or complaining for no reason, but without being very rude, the best approach is to let your creativity take over. Mixed in with a little sense of humour, this type of response can quickly put an end to the problem and even turn it into something positive.


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