A Guide to Dealing with Trolls
During the first few months of maintaining a business blog, each comment feels like a triumph. Getting people engaged can be tough, even if you faithfully respond to compliments and questions. One sure measure of business blog success is when you start generating comments that don't matter at all. From threats to anonymous notes criticizing your grammar, we've compiled a guide of everything you need to know about dealing with trolls.
Distinguish Between Trolls and Detractors
Not every comment on your blog will be praise, and not every negative comment will be from a troll. One of the best definitions I've seen of trolls is that they're not interested in rational discourse. Trolls are almost always anonymous and tend to make comments which are absurd or abusive. There is a fair amount of ambiguity when it comes to the difference between negative comments and trolls, and drawing the line is always a judgement call. A comment about your grammar could be worth researching and responding to. A comment that states “you're so stupid” or something similar is usually a sure sign that you're dealing with a troll.
If the comment is based in reality and the individual is asking a a genuine question or offering feedback, it is likely worthwhile to respond. If the troll is launching a personal attack, the best approach is to stay out of it. If a client has a genuine problem with your customer service or product quality and wants resolution, this isn't a case of dealing with a troll. Responding to negative comments on your blog or social media is a great way for your organization to display customer service skills. Not all negative comments are created equal, and responding to detractors with real solutions in a public forum is fantastic PR.
Don't Feed the Trolls
Trolls are rampant on major personal and business blogs, and you can almost always find them in the comments section of Huffington Post or other major online news sources. Most companies have a firm policy that advises employees and commenters to “not feed the trolls.” It's a fact that trolls seek a thrill by upsetting bloggers and other readers, and the best way to approach dealing with a troll is usually to ignore them. Delete comments from trolls as soon as they are posted, especially if they contain inappropriate language or completely baseless, personal attacks.
Trying to engage in dialogue with a troll is very rarely a good use of your social media manager or blogger's time. Trolls usually can't be reasoned with, and they will probably continue making irrational and offensive statements in follow-up dialogue. Don't engage trolls, unless they may be a real-life client with an issue. If origin the comment is unclear, offering a simple way to reach resolution offline could be the best approach. Responding with a general company email address could be a convenient way offering resolution if you can't tell if you are dealing with a troll or frustrated client.
Often, comments from trolls are just a bizarre, one-time event. Seasoned small business bloggers know to delete the comments and not take the attack personally. Sometimes, trolls become particularly persistent and keep coming back. Reporting trolls or harassment on social media is a best practice. You don't need to experience being threatened or harassed in a public forum.
While ignoring deleting inappropriate comments quickly is almost always the best approach to dealing with trolls, sometimes your loyal fans might try to jump in and defend your company before you can get online. If comments are getting out of hand or your clients are being targeted, closing the comments on a blog post may be the best approach to dealing with trolls. While dealing with trolls on a regular basis might not feel like an accomplishment, give yourself a pat on the back. If you're blog distribution is high enough to draw in bizarre, anonymous comments, your company is doing something right.