Avoid the Trolls

Three Billy Goat’s Gruff is a famous Norwegian folktale. A mean, hungry troll lives under a bridge, and when the little goat wants to enjoy some green grass on the other side, the troll gives him trouble. In the world of social media or “social,” there are also trolls that wait for you and live to make your life unpleasant.

If you run any social media page, you will have to deal with negative comments, criticism, and “haters.” However, negativity online is not all created equal. While some of your followers might have legitimate grievances, concerns, or questions, some are only interested in negativity for negativity’s sake. Internet vernacular generally refers to these types of individuals as “trolls.” 

“Troll” is a term that most internet-savvy professionals know. But what is a troll exactly?

Urban Dictionary.com defines a troll as: “Someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

There’s an old-timey saying that teaches that you should never try to wrestle a pig in the mud. Both of you will get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it. Trolls operate much the same way. They are far more interested in getting people “worked up” than they are in a “good faith discussion.” Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep the trolls at bay.

Don’t allow them in

Take full advantage of your social media page’s regulatory tools. Facebook page admins can block profanity and desired keywords. Contrary to popular belief, your Facebook page does not have to be a forum for open discussion. If you see any comments that are entirely “out of line,” feel free to delete them. Posts that violate Facebook’s terms and conditions can be reported to Facebook directly.

Develop a game plan

Develop a set of standards and practices regarding how your business should respond to certain kinds of social media interactions. How should you respond to unhappy customers? What things are okay or not okay discuss on the page? How should employees protect their personal pages? Make sure that all your social media managers are on the same page.

Don’t take it personally 

Unless you or your organization has made a grave error, you shouldn’t take every troll on social media personally. Even if you give people the “facts,” not everyone is willing to listen. Very few, if any, people have changed their views on a person or organization because of something they saw on social media. Pick your battles wisely and know when and when not to fight. 

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