How to Handle Social Media Trolls

One of the best features of the internet is the fact that it gives people a chance to speak their minds. By using comments, anyone can participate in a discussion, and these can at times be quite enriching.

However, an unfortunate drawback to this open forum is that trolls can come in and completely destroy the civility and respect required for a good discussion. And often times they do it just because they can.

This can have a whole host of consequences. For one, a troll can cause serious harm to the person they’ve targeted. Cyberbullying is a real thing, and it can really hurt people. Also, trolls can hurt your brand. If someone reads your content, scrolls through the comments, and finds the type of remarks trolls often make, they can associate this with your brand, harming your reputation.

As a result, you need to find a way to deal with these people. But this isn’t always easy. One of the defining characteristics of a troll is that they can be impossible to confront, so here are some of our strategies for helping you do it.

Confirm You’re Dealing with a Troll

Not everyone with an axe to grind is a troll. It might be an upset customer with a legitimate concern, and if you treat them like a troll, this can be even worse for your brand. Typically, though, trolls aren’t hard to spot. Here are some of the characteristics of a troll:

  • They will try to make you angry by making radical statements or by initiative controversy
  • They tend to think they are right and everyone else is wrong
  • They exaggerate
  • They attack the person instead of what they are saying
  • They curse and often have bad grammar

Deal with the Troll

Once you’ve confirmed you are in fact dealing with a troll, the next step is to go about dealing with them. There are several different approaches, and which one you choose will depend on the situation. Here are our top tips:

  • Create a policy and remind people of it. Sites with an activity community tend to create some guidelines for discussion, and if you notice someone is being aggressive, you can jump in and remind them of that policy. If they continue to disrespect it, then you can remove their commenting privileges.
  • Ignore them. Often times the best thing to do is to simply not engage. Trolls are looking for a response, and if they don’t get one, they will often give up.
  • Fight with facts. If a troll is stirring up trouble using half-truths and rumours, jump in with some evidence that contradicts what they’re saying. This might not stop the troll, but it will signal to other readers that you’re not endorsing what the troll is saying.
  • Laugh it off. Sometimes a good joke is all you need to diffuse the tension and get a troll off your back.

However, perhaps the best thing you can do is build a strong, respectful community. This will help build a good culture on your site that will self-police and get rid of trolls on its own before they became a major problem.