By Cassy van Eeden
Having a plan in place to deal with criticism and complaints
on social media is one thing, but having a plan to counteract individuals whose
sole purpose is to tarnish your brand “requires a whole different approach”,
says William Comcowich,
founder of CyberAlert.
Respond, delete or
You have three options when it comes to protecting your
brand from trolls. You can either respond to them (either publicly or
privately), delete their comment (if the social media platform allows this) or
avoid the troll completely.
What is important to keep in mind when making this decision
is that the social media account you are dealing with is an extension of the
brand, says Cassandra Hayes
writing for SocialBro. “Any key communication reflects on the brand as a whole.”
“Feeding the trolls can create a social media crises,” says Comcowich. He
adds that responding in a short, friendly manner is “a brand’s best opportunity
to clear any misinformation and show other consumers that your brand is both
professional and cares about all customers”.
Community manager for Denuo, Caroline Chen, says, “Many are in the camp of
deleting anything and everything negative.” “But I tend to side with
transparency – not all of it will be pretty, but it’s an opportunity to learn
from criticism.” She adds that deleting make you seem passive-aggressive.
You will never have the last word with a troll. This is
where avoidance can be considered: if you foresee that arguing with the troll
is only going to cause more damage to your brand. “In this case, the only way
to handle trolls is to starve them,” says Comcowich.
Keep emotion out of
Chen writes: “Don’t let them see you cry.” A troll’s chief
goal is to gain a reaction. Getting an emotional reaction is their jackpot.
“If a troll’s post makes you particularly angry, wait an
hour or so before you respond,” says Comcowich. “The last thing you need is a
comment written in the heat of the moment that, once it’s out of the Internet,
you can’t take back.”
Check your facts
Facts are your friends. “If trolls are spreading rumours,
tweeting wrong information or posting inaccuracies, nip it in the bud,” says
Magoosh community manager, Rachel
Wisuri. “The best way to disprove tales told by trolls is with facts.”
While responding with facts is a great strategy, it is
paramount that you ensure that the facts are correct.
If you choose to respond to a troll, it is important to
investigate the situation first. Look into what they are claiming first.
“Trolls live to prove people wrong,” says Comcowich. He
advises that companies “make sure what they say is true and up-to-date”.
Don’t be a troll
Wisuri notes that commenter and followers aren’t the only
trolls on the Internet. “Sometimes brands become the offenders.” She explains
that, “Corporate trolling is when companies troll their fans."
“There is a fine line between being fun and engaging and
simply being offensive. It’s better to err on the side of nice than what could
be perceived as nasty.”
As a brand, How do you respond to online trolls? Let us know
in the comments below.