Building your company?s brand online is tough enough when you?re working to establish yourself and dealing with usual business growing pains, but what about when you have to deal with people online who seem as if they are just out to harm you and your reputation?
Why Can Online Trolls Be so Damaging?
An online ?troll? works to create havoc on social media in an effort to ridicule, inflict damage, or humiliate either a person or a business. Online trolls on social media like to provoke others on the internet, spread disinformation, say inflammatory things, and do anything else they can to make their intended targets angry or upset.
When you step back from it, it?s hard not to feel a little sorry for people who can only get their kicks this way. On the other hand, we know that 84% of people buy products based on reviews and that people find these reviews from hundreds of various places online ? social media, email groups, discussion forums, and blogs. Many people unaccustomed to online chicanery take what they read on social media or review sites as gospel truth (you?d have to be a sociopath to make up stuff on review sites, right?)
Therefore, trolls have the potential to cause detrimental damage to your business and must be considered and taken seriously from a business standpoint.
Do They Have a Legitimate Grievance?
Determining the difference between an upset or disgruntled customer and a troll is a big part of reputation management. It?s imperative to respond to genuine customer complaints in a professional manner, listening to their problem and trying to resolve it as courteously as possible. Ultimately, with a genuine complaint, you have the opportunity to learn something and better your business.
Real customers will respond to an effort to gain resolution; trolls won?t ? they only want to engage in an online battle, win ?internet points,? and make themselves feel bigger by taking up more of your time.
If an online user appears to want to make you angry, acts entitled, exaggerates a lot, or tries to make a discussion personal, you?re probably dealing with a troll. Of course, it is necessary to be able to decipher the difference and not be overly quick to assume any negative feedback is simply a result of people who are out to get you.
How to Deal with Online Trolls
Each case will be different, but there are a few steps you can take to minimize the effect of trolls.
- Be ready for them ? Your staff should all understand that the trolls will eventually come knocking no matter what you do. Have a policy in place discussing how to deal with trolls. Create a community policy for being respectful on your forums and privately warn people who get out of line that they must engage in a constructive, acceptable way or risk being banned.
- Ignore them ? Trolls will feed off the reaction and attention they get from you and their peers. Ignoring trolls is the easiest way to get them to lose interest, but if other well-meaning people do engage with the trolls on your behalf then at some point it might be necessary for you to take further steps.
- Make the facts plain ? If incorrect information is being spread, respond with the facts. Even if this can mean showing your company made a mistake, owning up to it and showing you?ve made it right will make the controversy disappear.
- Block or ban ? When a troll goes too far and threatens you or uses hate speech, it?s time to block or ban them from your social media and report them.
Everyone will be watching to see how you respond to online trolls ? including current and prospective clients. Respond to aggrieved customers with thoughtful responses and your readers will take notice. When a troll becomes apparent, take the high road. As you gain more followers that respect your responses, they?ll help defend you and self-police your social media by reporting trolls for you.