Social Media Trolls: A Practical Guide for Dealing With Impossible People
Social media trolls are something that can sometimes affect us negatively and discourage us from achieving our goals. Here in this blog, we are going reading to about identifying Social Media Trolls and the right way of tackling them.
For anybody who has spent a long time on social media, they have to have come across a specific category of people whose only mission in life seems to be kicking up controversy. They will do anything they can stoop as low as they need to, just to keep the argument running.
No matter what you do or how you try to appease them, there seems to be no satisfying them. That is because these are social media trolls.
They exist to harass and disrupt. As a result, a lot of people, especially influencers and brands, can get badly bullied on their accounts.
However, you might wonder what these trolls achieve with such behavior. Nothing. Then why do they do it? The answer is simple – Attention.
Table of contents
- What Are Social Media Trolls?
- How To Identify Social Media Trolls
- The Right Way To Tackle Social Media Trolls
What Are Social Media Trolls?
The only correct way to define social media trolls is like people who deliberately provoke and harass people using inflammatory and often even offensive and abusive statements. They will lie, instigate, confuse, and mock just to create disputes and spread false information.
It might sometimes be challenging to differentiate social media trolls from actually aggrieved customers. One way to understand and separate the two is to personally message them and ask them if you can resolve the issue according to their discretion in a peaceful manner.
Angry customers should, with a bit of coaxing, agree to this. But trolls will only continue to instigate you and make a scene as publicly as possible.
How To Identify Social Media Trolls
Before you know how to deal with a troll, you must know how to identify them. You cannot just be going around treating every complainant as a troll: that would be nothing but harmful to your business.
But the good news is, it is not too hard to pinpoint the troll lurking and striking in your comments section. Look for the following signs, and when someone ticks most or all of the boxes, you will know that you have a social media troll in your hands.
- Instead of presenting rational arguments or responding with logic, they will only try to kindle a discussion and keep adding fuel to the fire.
- They will get very personal when they argue and bring up unrelated details about the person but irrelevant to the discussion in an attempt to vilify or suppress them.
- They will be aggressive in their attacks, often more than the situation deems. They will often try to be very colourful in their language when they try to insult people.
- They will exaggerate and even lie to get their way. Even when someone proves them wrong, they will keep cooking up nonsense to turn the tide their way.
- They are hyperbolic with their facts if they present any at all. They will cook up false information to back them, and when you ask for proof, they will give excuses as to why they cannot present it to you.
- They will try to win the argument by hook or by crook. It will not leave you alone until they have the last word.
- A frequent trend used by social media trolls to try to discount valid arguments is to make light of and joke about them. Sometimes, these jokes are outright cruel and insensitive, but trolls do not care.
- Often, when trolls run out of things to say, they will simply try to shut you up by saying things like “You are wrong though”, “How does it feel to be so delusional”, and so on. They will try to discredit you without giving sufficient reason as to why.
- It has an inflated sense of entitlement, as they feel like having an inherent right to being given attention over others.
- They will be obsessed. It will lurk in the comment sections looking for an opportunity to strike. They will keep spreading hatred until they are appropriately dealt with.
- In the same vein, social media trolls are attention hogs. They want everyone to be addressing them than the actual issue at hand.
- One of the widespread traits of trolls is the inability to weave coherent sentences. They ramble and rant but what they are trying to express often takes a lot of time and effort to understand.
- Similarly, their spelling and grammar skills are notoriously bad. They use overly skewed SMS language that you will have a hard time deciphering.
The Right Way To Tackle Social Media Trolls
When people are trying to stir you up, it can often be challenging to keep your cool. That is why you need to have a list to know what to do when a social media troll is attacking you.
Create A Policy
It can often be challenging to deal with trolls when they are in the middle of a slander fest. They will rave and rant about how you are trying to oppress them and silence their voices. They will call you sensitive for not being able to take “criticism” in your stride.
It is precisely why you need to have community guidelines by which you can police the comment section. That way, the trolls will not be able to attack you, saying you are targeting them personally.
Whenever a troll takes it too far, remind them of the policy and warn them of the consequences of violating them. Make sure that when you create the community policy, it will not only protect you and friendly community members from undue hate and create a healthy atmosphere, but it will also be one that is practical and possible to stick to.
Do Not Take It Personally
As we have already mentioned, trolls often go for you with personal, below-the-belt attacks. While they have no obligation to maintain ethics and morals, you still do.
Instead of attacking them similarly by going after highly individual details, stay professional, and respond as a representative of your brand.
Use formal language and try to respond to the troll in the same manner that you would address an actual complainant.
When you maintain your cool and keep up the non-confrontational facade, eventually, the troll will be worn down and maybe even embarrassed. In most cases, they will leave you alone when they see they cannot crack you.
Do Not Get Mad, Play Smart
Getting angry and acting rashly will only make you play right into the hands of the social media troll irritating you. Instead of getting mad, act rationally.
One of the best ways to interact with trolls without giving them power over you or the conversation is to keep trying to put your best foot forward. For every claim they make, ask them what you can do to redress the situation.
For every insult, they hurl, ask them to point out instances where you acted the way they are accusing you of. The more you turn the narrative towards them having to prove their point and work constructively, the more frustrated they will get and abandon their quest.
It is a well-known saying that there is no sweeter revenge than apathy. Social media trolls live off and flourish from the attention they get. As we said, they are the ultimate attention hogs. By ignoring them, you deny them precisely the thing that they need to exist.
And there is nothing more comical than seeing a troll go off in the comments like a mad person when no one is even giving any attention to what they are saying.
If you react or respond angrily, as they want you to, you will only be empowering them. But when you ignore them, you strip them of their only power and expose them for what they are.
Respond With Certitude
If you ever study the way social media trolls talk, you will notice that their confidence seems to be running on an energy drink – on overdrive, to the point that they cannot even recognize the mistakes they are making at times.
The only way to deal with this is to be confident yourself but in a grounded manner. Instead of showing doubt or indecision at any point, stand your ground firmly.
Reply to all their comments with full conviction and let them know you know full well what you are doing. When they see that they cannot topple your certainty in any way, they will stop trying to.
The one thing social media trolls bank upon is that you will fight them with emotions instead of facts. They want you to get carried away and be agitated. They use popular tropes to appeal to the sentiments of people and make you out to be the villain of the story.
But they would not be able to succeed if you can prove that what they are saying is false using stone-cold facts. Not only that, but by providing rock-solid proof, you will also be automatically proving that the troll is not a reliable source of information. It will make them lose any power they had over the audience.
Diffuse With Humour
Not everyone has the stomach for this, so take this alley only if you are sure about what you are doing. If you are going to use humor to address the “concerns” being aired by the social media troll, make sure first that you will not be offending any person or community. If you have the scope, run it by PR.
Once you are sure that your joke will have the intended effect, unleash it on the troll. The troll would probably be expecting you to counter them and quarrel with them or try to brush over the situation by hushing them. So when you, instead, speak their language back to them, they will be forced to step back.
Block Or Ban Them
There is no better way to stop social media trolls than by taking away their voice altogether. You can do this by blocking their account or getting them banned from all social media platforms, at least for a little while, by reporting them.
Now, this may seem a bit too extreme in some cases. Of course, banning and blocking is not condoned for every point of trolls.
If you stop people or report them every time someone voices their opinion, you will send out the message that yours is an oppressive community where dissenters are unwelcome.
But, if a troll is taking it too far by hurting people’s sentiments, threatening people with harm, spewing hate speech or offensive statements, or repeatedly disturbing you, you have every right to keep them away from your platform permanently.
Correct Your Mistakes
It would be a bit of a stretch to assume that you are always in the right. That would be arrogance. Brands can make mistakes too and cause an angry customer who is not in the mood to be civil.
These customers might take it a bit too far in the comments section if they think they have been wronged or inadequately treated.
When you see someone complaining and garnering a lot of interest, your first course of action should be to try to address the problem. You will notice that in most cases, this will cause the person to calm down and become loyal to your brand.
Even if the person turns out to be a troll who is just not interested in you making amends, it will send the message to your community that you listen to your customers and try your best to serve them.
Do Not Be Baited
When social media trolls incite conflict, they have a specific goal in mind. They might be trying to get an inevitable reaction from you or prove you to be the villain of the story. They will always try to steer the narrative in that direction. Your job here is to not fall into this trap.
If you do, the troll will have succeeded in their mission. You do not want them to have this victory.
That is why they must be meticulous not to fall for the bait that they layout for you. Steer around it and take control of the dialogue. Take it in the direction advantageous to you and send out the message that you are not one to be bullied.
Do Not Delete Their Posts
Deleting the posts of the social media troll will only prove the point they are trying to put forward – that you are a coward and in the wrong, so you are trying to shut them up. By keeping their posts up in your feed, you will be shooting two birds in the same arrow.
The first is that you will be setting a public example of how trolls will be dealt with by your brand in the community.
Keeping alive the proof of a person being a troll and is not to be taken seriously is the best way to take their power away from them.
The second is that in the case that there was a fault with you and you took the time to correct it, it will tell your customers that you value them, their opinions, and their experience above all else.
Build A Supportive, Unified Community
The biggest strength of any brand is its army of loyal customers that will be ready to take on any social media troll for you. If you truly value your customers and do not spare any opportunity to show the same to them, they will protect and defend you from trolls. However, like anything in this world, there is a downside to this too.
While you and your team may be trained to handle trolls and inflammatory situations without letting your emotions take the driver’s seat, your community members are not.
They are ordinary humans and will most likely be outraged when they see their favourite brand get dissed. The argument might go out of hand in the comment section. The best thing to do here is to handle it first and resolve it in a manner that even when your community members comment, they will stay dignified.
It will not be possible for you to keep an eye out for every comment on every post for every campaign that you create. You will need backup. It is where moderators come in.
They are a team of people who are experienced in monitoring the online discussion, identifying inappropriate and offensive comments, and dealing with them accordingly.
They will not only know which course of action will suit best a kind of non-compliance to community policy, but you will also not be held personally responsible for deleting a comment or banning a person for troll-like behaviour. It is the perfect win-win situation for handling social media trolls.
Sadly, social media trolls have taken over every corner of the Internet. You cannot step anywhere without running into one. Since you cannot precisely avoid them, the best thing to do is to render them powerless over you.
Identifying the troll is half the work done, the other half is to take the right action, as the situation calls. By using the tips which are mentioned above, it should be easy to tackle all kinds of social media trolls while staying the brand that takes the high road every time.
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