Social Media—the ultimate free way to market your brand and solicit new clients. And home to the dreaded internet trolls.
Whether it’s a competing business, jealous individual or just an unhinged hater, there are folks out there who thrive on leaving critical and cruel comments online. Believe it or not, there are people who are paid to troll businesses.
How do you deal with these people without coming across as defensive? There is a strategy that works and can help you keep your cool.
Here are the steps to get those internet trolls out of your way:
STEP 1: STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.
The most natural reaction to a spiteful remark is to take it personally. It’s difficult to brush off these kind of comments. But firing off an angry retort will not only encourage the internet trolls to up the attack, it can turn off potential customers.
Whether it’s meditation, a walk around the block or a phone call to a good friend, take a few minutes to do what you need to do in order to calm your nerves.
STEP 2: DETERMINE YOUR TROLL-TYPE.
Internet trolls come in all manners of style. Your job is to figure out who you’re dealing with.
“The So-Called Expert” – Whether they know what they’re talking about or are completely clueless, these internet trolls will quote all sorts of facts in an attempt to discredit you and your work.
“The All-Purpose Misanthrope” – It doesn’t matter what the topic is, some people love to leave irrelevant negative comments. “This is so stupid.” “Ugh, she’s so disgusting, why is she here?” We’ve all seen these haters that just can’t be pleased, no matter what.
“The Completely Unhinged” – Their gRammer And sentences make NOOOOO SENSE and EVerything IS IN ALL CAPS followed by LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!! Their posts can be filled with expletives of every stripe and include threats and sexual menacing.
STEP 3: CRAFT YOUR RESPONSE.
It’s safer to draft your response in a word document than doing so directly online. This allows you to fine-tune your rebuttal and double check your writing without the risk of accidentally hitting “post.”
If you’re dealing with the So-Called Expert, you should be knowledgeable enough with your own work to provide the actual facts that the poster has gotten wrong. Be sure to do so with courtesy and professionalism.
The All-Purpose Misanthrope will never be swayed. Their goal is not to provide criticism, but to rile you into furthering the conversation so they can attack you again. The perfect rebuttal to their brand of rude? None at all—simply ignore them.
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a comment from The Completely Unhinged, do not engage. Readers that are serious about finding information about you will immediately realize that this commenter has no credibility.
Don’t forget to keep your response short. Studies show people only spend 10 to 20 seconds on a web page, and even less time reading text.
STEP 4: POST YOUR RESPONSE AND MOVE ON
The last thing you want to do is start a conversation with the internet trolls. A protracted conversation will only detract readers from your original message. One well written response will do more to reduce harm than fifteen sloppy ones.
STEP 5: BLOCK THE USER IF YOU HAVE TO
Some sites such as Twitter will allow you to block particular users. There’s nothing you can do to prevent them from creating another user ID, but the majority of users will simply move on to a different victim.
If the commenter is threatening you, report the abuse immediately. If you find yourself a target of a coordinated campaign, it may be worth disabling all comments until a later time.
The reasons people take such joy in trying to destroy other people is multi-fold. Don’t waste your time trying to figure them out. Sometimes commenters have genuine complaints but express them with an angry tone. If this is the case, acknowledge their salient points with graciousness. The old method of “killing ’em with kindness” is often enough to turn a hater into a fan.
At the end of the day, how much these people get to you is entirely in your hands. It’s like the man said: some people just want to watch the world burn.