No one’s perfect.  No matter how had you try to avoid them, problems will arise on your company’s social media profiles. When this happens, you may notice others starting to latch on.  Be proactive and know how to identify and handle such negativity.

The Source of Negativity

Before you can solve the problem, know where it stems from. Listen and identify with whom you’re dealing with before proceeding.

Unhappy Fan/Customer
At times, you will have unhappy fans that express themselves.  Visiting your social media profiles or online review sites tend to be the easiest way to explain their disappointment. Once you’ve identified them as a legitimate customer, you can help resolve the issue at hand.

You’ll notice a different in a troll’s post by their language use.  Typically, their posts will feature entitled, brutal and harsh language. Their posting may be frequent and may include personal attacks.  They won’t reason with any solutions you may provide.

When confronted with these types of posters, take a look at their profile.  Many times you’ll be able to tell it’s a fake account, primarily used to post irrationally on company profiles.

Handle Trolls Effectively

The main goal of a troll is to trouble a brand and get a rise out of you and anyone else in an online community. They want to cause distress and by doing so, you’re feeding into their tenacity and they win.

In my experience these tips will help avoid this, also known as not “feeding the trolls:”

Ignore them.
Don’t give them the time of day; it’s exactly what fuels their fire. Their posts are specifically placed to lure you into an argument.  Engaging will cause a free for all. Keep in mind, the time you spend responding to a troll is time you’re with your actual customers.

Never delete posts.
Once a troll notices their post has been removed, they may become enraged. They will continue to post more with an accusatory tone.  However, this may work adversely on a blog post.

If you have your blog comments sent on an approval base, you can choose to disapprove spam or trolled comments.  Trolls will realize their comments aren’t getting through and (hopefully) will stop posting.

Don’t become argumentative.
If your company policy includes responding to, be careful how you do it.  Refrain from using too much logic or reason in your response.  A purposeful post is another way you’ll entice trolls to fire back. Always avoid any confrontational posts. As you can imagine, this will start a heated argument.

A better way to respond is including a little wit or charm, always with a nice attitude.  A response like as this could be as simple as “Thank you for your concern.”

Use administrative power.
If you haven’t done it yet, take some time to create a social media policy to host at social profiles. This is especially important for communities with high engagement.  By doing so, you’ll have the support of your policy to back any choices you make when dealing with trolls.

Some trolls become obsessed with posting and turn into a large burden, even for a seasoned community manager.  If it comes to that, it may be time to pull out the social media policy and enforce it.

If a troll has violated the policy you put in place, handle it accordingly and consistently.  Your policy should have a clause that states the company has a right to remove those that violate the terms.  If a troll has gotten out of control and violates your policy, remove them from the community.

Don’t take it personally.
I can’t express this enough. A troll’s sole purpose is to upset everyone online.  Don’t take their posts to heart.  In becoming distraught, the trolls are getting what they wanted.

If you’re new to managing a community, this part may be hard to get over – but don’t worry you will!

When dealing with upset customers:
In most cases, community managers aren’t customer service representatives.

If you’re not sure how to fix the problem as a community manager, don’t provide false hope to the customer.  You may want to make them feel better, but never do so by promising them something you’re unsure of.  Instead, ask for the user to send  a private message with their best contact information.  Then refer the concern to an employee better equipped to handle the issue.

How have you handled trolls successfully on social media sites? Do you believe in deleting their posts or keeping them? I’m interested to hear what has worked for each of you!


Photo Credit: Flickr user Retromoderns