05.07 2020 14:03h

How to Handle Social Media Trolls

A social media manager should be skilled in the art of handling online trolls, read on to learn more!
Social Media, Social Media Trolls
via Unsplash

Some people just love to cause grief. Trolls are part of the social media landscape. They come in many different forms and can sometimes be difficult to identify from real customers. As a business, trolls aren’t just annoying for you, they can do serious damage to your reputation. By antagonizing legitimate users, they create negative experiences —  and even though they aren’t your fault, those negative experiences stick.

When trolls slide into the comments sections or Twitter threads, they present a unique challenge for social media managers. On the surface, it’s a simple issue. However, deleting every troll comment and blocking troll accounts is not only exhaustively time-consuming, but potentially a missed opportunity to steer your business to legitimate audiences.

via GIPHY

Many social media platforms are feeling the pressure to clean up their community and help users avoid offensive and hateful content. Some, like Twitter, have made updates to that effect. Twitter’s algorithm updates work to identify potentially harmful content and hide it behind a collapsible tag.

Algorithms, however, are imperfect. They might always be imperfect when it comes to analyzing and approximating human behavior.

Most platforms also have a report function that users can leverage to voice complaints about a specific post or comment. In many situations, troll comments will be pushed out of view, or reported so often that they get removed.

However, report functions don’t always work well, either. Facebook is becoming famous for inconsistent and incorrect decision making when it comes to hate speech on their platform.

The first thing you might think of doing is manually removing, reporting, and blocking comments from trolls. But as your audience grows, that’s going to prove far too time-consuming.

Moderation and comment curation is one of the best ways to create productive discussion spaces. However many platforms limit the control you have over what other people post, and depending on the scope of your business, comment moderation may be something you just can’t afford to do.

The other easy option is to leave them alone. Your audience is smart, they know a troll when they see one, and the comments of other people aren’t your responsibility.

This is all mostly true, however, many trolls are very good at making comments that appear to be “real arguments” on the surface, just for the purposes of derailing a discussion and creating an argument. Then, people get sucked in and your comments section turns into a flame war between legitimate users who are not trolling.

Alternative Strategies

Stay classy, kill them with kindness

This approach does not distinguish a troll from a customer. Respond to their complaint or grievance just as you would a legitimate concern. Let them know their feedback is important, and entertain suggestions (to a point). When the troll inevitably asks for something ridiculous, you can end the conversation knowing that your business comes off as a class act that attempted to make an issue right.

Humor: Hop on down to their level and throw a punch

This strategy has a ton of potential to backfire, but one only needs to look at the Wendy’s Twitter account to see the power of humor, and even troll-like behavior when employed carefully by social media managers. Responding to trolls with humor turns them and their comments into a joke, and if your response is “savage” enough, it’s likely to earn you a lot of brownie points and social engagement.

How do you deal with social media trolls?

Let us know in the comments below!

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