In the ideal world, it would be considered wise for the brands/companies to respond to everyone on social media. When people take the time to compliment a you, they want to be acknowledged; when they have a complaint, they want you to pay heed and provide a resolution; and when they have a question, they just want the answer.
But some people who tag companies on Twitter or post on a company’s Facebook page aren’t most likely looking for any of those things. Instead, they are just looking for attention. These odious beasts are often referred to as trolls.
Trolls of the internet world are nasty creatures that cause nightmares for the social media marketers and to customer service agents alike. Trolls are typically in search of an audience through incessantly negative banter about a brand/company. Trolls don’t really want resolution or answers; all they want is “attention”. Often their “complaint” is so obnoxious that it isn’t solvable anyway, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the company (in which case it also qualifies as spam).
So here’s how to handle these trolls like a hero:
- The best way to deal with a troll is to respectfully answer the first post by offering to help. It’s also a good idea to offer to take the discussion offline so the person can rant privately instead of publicly. But here’s the interesting part: Because trolls generally aren’t looking for resolution, they are often surprised that the brand has engaged them at all. On several occasions, this will cause them to leave and find another target.
- As a company or a brand, you should follow the thumb rule of “Replying Only Twice”—ROT. If it keeps getting unpleasant inspite of trying to have a decent dialogue with the troller, it’s better to leave it at that the second time you respond. Because, A:it’s a waste of time and B:you are inviting more trollers by responding several times and getting into a spat. Although the tricky part comes when there is a real problem being addressed that may require more than two responses, and the customer seems willing to engage further. In that case, continuing the conversation until the customer is satisfied is appropriate.
- Trolls are also the exception to other social media etiquette questions, such as whether it is okay to delete customer posts on a company’s Facebook page and whether it’s okay to just ignore a post and not respond at all. The answer in these cases is yes for trolls but generally no for any other post. This also goes for spam posts and any posts that are purely based on hateor filled with profanity.
- This one is a little tricky, but have a comeback ready. You don’t have to get into a spat or a war, just an amazing comeback would shut the troll up or gain you some popularity amongst your community on social media. Along with this, there are customers you will speak for you and will be by your side, so concentrate of them and instead reply back to them for defending you.
Finally, remember that people with legitimate complaints about your business are not trolls, and should always be treated respectfully with the goal of finding a resolution to the customer’s specific issue and identifying and correcting the root cause of the problem within the company.
- If, however, the person remains persistent after a couple of back-and-forths, it’s okay to ignore and/or block the person from future communications. You are most and foremost, a company much bigger than trollers and have major things to look at, so it’s ok to report the troller.
Also trolls are just haters and bullies of the internet era, so why waste your precious energy!
We hope this helps you battle those nasty trolls.