Whether we like it or not, the world of social media is no different than a dark forest – a lot of different creatures are lurking around, but not all of them are your friends. Same as in your social media account, your page likers and followers are not always your avid fans. Some of them are disgruntled customers, brand haters, or just simply social media trolls.
Social media trolls are those love to put negative comments on your page, destroying your company’s reputation with their words and rants. Unlike some of your valued customers who have legitimate reasons for posting on your walls or commenting on your posts, trolls are fearless and aggressive. They are never satisfied.
So, if you want to keep your online reputation in good standing, it’s important for you to know more about the social media trolls – who they are, what do they do, and why do they really exist. In today’s blog article, we are going to discuss the 5Ws and 1H of social media trolls and we’ll find out how we can turn their negative publicity to a positive online entertainment.
Who are the social media trolls?
As mentioned above, the social media trolls are those who deliberately post offensive or provocative comments online. Their goal is to upset other users and trigger an emotional response. Their biggest achievement is when a user or a company snaps and got angry.
Usually, trolls rant about a service or a product. Some people call them “haters”, because they just basically express their hate on almost everything. Say for instance you post a blog article promoting your product, these trolls will literally negate everything that you will say. They will state contradiction on your every word and phrases. Because of their response, many people will respond to their comment until it trends the social media news feed.
What are the characteristics of an online troll?
Through time, trolls have evolved. Yes, they really did. During the early days of social media, it’s easy to spot them. It was simpler, they tend to start an aggressive conversation. But through time, these trolls have developed different techniques in bashing the Internet. Some of them pretend begins with a vague enquiry then, if they will not get what they want, it will suddenly rise up to a complaint.
It’s also easy to identify a troll with a bit of stalking. Once you visit a troll’s profile page, it would really say much. It will not really have a lot of personal posts. Most of these accounts are just created to, well… to troll around. It’s like the account is not a legitimate person’s profile.
Another characteristic of a social media troll is vagueness. They won’t really identify a specific issue or problem in their comments. Most of their posts are just pure anger and hate, which will later boost to an argument. It’s basically… non-sense.
When do you know if you are dealing with a social media troll?
The challenge in handling a troll-related situation is identifying the difference between a troll and a genuine customer. How could you tell if you are dealing with a legit user and not a lurker? Your business can execute your social strategies better if you know your genuine audience.
Let’s start with their similarities. Both a troll and a disgruntled customer will possess an angry aura. It’s like their first few words are already filled with negative emotions. The best way to identify is to ask more information about their concern. Listen to what they have to say. From there, you can see if it’s just a senseless trolling or an actual concern. If you don’t see any sense on a customer’s concern and if the customer just doesn’t stop complaining, then there’s no need to continue guessing. That is definitely a troll.
Another thing that can help you identify real customers is when you have presented a resolution. More likely, if you have resolved an issue or if you have presented the facts, customers will understand it and will stop there. But trolls are not trained to stop. They will just go on and on until they are requesting for something really impossible. Trolls are not looking for a resolution; they came to your page to strike a battle.
Where do these social media trolls lurk?
Believe it or not, trolls are omnipresent. They are present on all social platforms that has comment section or an avenue for interaction. Although it’s pretty obvious that trolls are highly active on Facebook, some studies found that there is a high percentage of online abusers on Twitter. But, it was only during the old times. Presently, trolls have reached Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and more.
To make this part of the discussion short, online trolls are everywhere. They have become an irresistible part of the social media community.
Why social media trolls become rampant?
Publicity. It will all boil down to distracting your competition. Based on a critical analysis while we are researching about this article, it looks like that trolls are inspired by irate customers online. When there are incidents of unhappy customers posting their sentiments online, there is a sure result of bad publicity. Then, the company will be forced to control the situation. But during the times of PR management, the competition will have an open window to turn things around.
There was one scenario in the Philippines where a popular fast food chain suddenly ran out of stocks of their famous fried chicken. Known as the social media capital of the world, the Internet was bombarded with emotional posts about the missing chicken and it became a trending topic for a while. Seeing the crisis as an opportunity, the number one competitor of this popular fast food chain launched an online campaign about how they always have fried chicken in their menu. And that campaign lasts longer and more successful.
Those rants are not a trolling tactic. Those are real sentiments of the customers. So, some genius marketing strategists may have thought that if many customers are outwardly expressing their hate over a product or a company, the competitor will have a good chance to use it for publicity. Bright idea, right? That’s how trolls were born – or so we believe.
How to protect your brand from social media trolls?
Now that we have unmasked the real identity of these online pests, it’s time to know how you can protect your brand or company from them. It’s not like you can immediately ban them or you can filter your likers and followers. That’s not how it works. It’s best to assume, and accept, that they are already there. It’s safe to immediately admit that you have haters and bashers.
Here are some quick tips on how you can defend your company once these trolls attack your page:
1. Two options: Fight back with humor or completely ignore
If the comment is too aggressive that intensely belittles your company’s reputation, you only have two option: you can come up with a witty and creative response, or you can just walk away. It’s an effective way to disarm a troll. It’s not that they aren’t smart enough, they’re just… not a fan of clever humor.
Another effective way is just to walk away. If you can’t come up with a smart line to scare your haters, it’s better to just keep your mouth shut. Or, you can approach them in a professional manner but if they persist on an argument, then you can just ignore them. Sometimes the best way to react is to not react at all.
2. Acknowledge and Act on it
Yeah, you can use powerful acknowledgement statements like “Oh, dear!”, “That’s not supposed to be that way”, and others. You can use action words to make them feel that you really care about how they feel. After that, act on their issue. If they are requesting for something really impossible, like overriding a policy for shipping that’s not really doable, it’s best to politely tell them about it.
Never forget to always acknowledge the customer’s situation. Empathy is key, even to those who aren’t really sincere. It won’t hurt to be nice to everyone.
3. Don’t add fuel to the fire
Your local customers will always have your back. There are times when your real supporters are the one to bash back to the online trolls. Their ammunition of good words and praise about your products and services are always at a ready to fire. It’s flattering, and amusing to read through. But, make sure that you are not going to dive in their own battle.
Surely, it’s tempting. Surely, it’s appropriate to acknowledge those who support you. But, responding in the middle of a conversation between customers may make things worse. It’s like you are in favor of the idea that they are not getting along, that they are fighting. The best way is to just keep quiet, and read silently in the background – unless you would want to correct some facts, which leads to our next tip.
4. Fight with Facts
Wrong information always results to negative impressions. Since there have been a lot of untrue stories published online, users cannot help but believe it, and it’s not good for business. If a troll visited your site and bashing with endless incorrect information, make sure to feed them with the right one. It would help to have links to an article or a research to prove the validity of the information.
Oftentimes, fake news or information can lead to a massive negative publicity. If, for example, a troll blogger spread a malicious news about your company or the people who works in it, it’s important to release a formal statement to correct the facts. Just one solid negation of the issue then you can keep quiet after that.
5. Use Moderators and Online Tools
Managing your social media accounts is no easy work. There may be times when you would need to be online the whole day, especially during peak seasons. Good thing, there are a lot of social media tools that you can use to help you maintain and manage your accounts. It is recommended that you utilize them in full capacity.
Also, it would be smarter to have a designated moderator for your social media account. You can look for a trained, well-immersed professional in the social media scene. In that way, you’re sure that your online reputation is in good hands, and that the same time you know who to blame if inappropriate posts were made.
It’s no big deal, really
Contrary to how many people perceive trolls, they aren’t really big deal. Surely, they can damage your reputation. Surely, they can tear your brand apart with their hate notes. But, they are also a testament that you have a strong standing in the market. Having online bashers mean that you matter. It only means that someone is doing something nasty (or worse, paying someone to bug you) because you are getting ahead of them.
Just keep your chill and brush it off your shoulders. Trolls aren’t a burden. It’s no biggie. But, in case you really need some help in boosting your reputation online, you can always ask for help from some on the trusted local agencies in Singapore. You can tap a team of digital strategists, so you can maintain a good name.
And in this fast-paced, technology-driven world of social marketing, it’s not just about being the first at everything, it’s also a matter of who survives the longest. Make sure you can stand tall against online trolls.