Social Media Trolls and How to Handle Them
Vanessa Suarez | @Vanessasuarez__ When used correctly, social media can be a valuable asset to any company or brand. It allows for companies and brands to interact with consumers directly and personally, doing away with the traditional robotic response. As easy as social media makes it for consumers to praise brands, it makes it just as easy for “trolls” to share negative opinions or comments.
What exactly is a social media troll you ask?
Picture a very large, probably smelly, troll-like creature sitting behind a computer in a basement totally pigging out on Cheetos Puffs and drinking Mountain Dew. This troll-like creature also has a genuine love for tweeting anything and everything about your brand.
A social media troll is a member of a social media network who posts offensive, divisive and controversial comments to bait brands into reacting, according to Techopedia. This action is sometimes called 'trolling.' Despite multiple attempts at limiting trolling on the Internet, it is still widespread in social networks, comment sections and anywhere else where users can post freely.
So, how exactly should a business or brand handle a social media troll?
Trolls and indecent comments should always be handled according to your social media policy. Now, if you’re asking yourself, “What's a social media policy?”, it’s time to create one. Social media policies set guidelines for posting on social media platforms for employees and users alike.
Social media policies should also include how inappropriate posts or comments should be escalated or what constitutes the deletion of an inappropriate post. These guidelines should include who can deal with the issue and how to handle it.
When dealing with social media trolls, it’s important to ask a few questions:
- Is the comment harmful to others?
- Does it alarm consumers?
- Should there be a response to the comment?
How to Respond
If the comment violates any portion of your social media policy and it's posted on a managed platform, delete the comment. Trolls that exceed general complaints and enter the realm of harassment, should be blocked. Social media administrators should be in charge of deleting and enforcing the social media policies on social platforms.
General complaints and inquiries are expected from consumers. For general social media management, these comments should be handled accordingly by social media administrators. Understand the comment and reply with the acknowledgement of the problem, apologize if the brand is at fault, and always recognize what the brand is doing to fix the issue(s).
Discuss with the social media manager how issues will need to be handled, such as taking the conversation online or continuing conversation via social platforms.