Social trolling is a new media trend that spares nobody. Be it a celebrity or commoner, trolls are hounding everyone 24*7, on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and every social network. From Justine Sacco, AAP to Priyanka Chopra, Lindsay Lohan, and Chetan Bhagat, we have seen all battling with social media trolls for one or the other reason. Trending hashtags like #pappu, #bendgate and most recently the #BoycottStarWarsVII are clear instances of social trolling that leads to fouled up mess.
Internet gives freedom to social media trolls to hunt down people, brands, actions, names, thoughts, and everything for that matter. Why we call them troll is quite interesting and logical too. In mythology, trolls are the creatures that live in isolated mountains and caves and are rarely helpful or friendly to human beings. Similarly, the internet trolls comeback every time you least expect them or there’s least possibility of blowing something out of proportion. What I most dread while watching trolls blow a fuse with hashtags is the devastation that is caused publically.
Combating Internet trolls
Social media trolling is of two kinds, at times you invite a trouble, and at others, you are dumbfounded as they slip you into it. Your reaction matters the most, in both situations. If we revisit Priyanka Chopra’s invite on Twitter (asking followers to join her on Reddit) to ask anything, it’s the case of inviting trolls. Most of the trolls on these networks are anonymous, especially on Reddit. For public figures like her, AMA Reddit can cost their image as users have the liberty to ask anything. Certain PR strategy or pre-planning can help to give direction to the conversation.
Although she chose to keep mum on all hate messages and more public mockery followed on her silence, yet she saved it considerably and left a final message thanking all to be a part of it. It turned up as a murky hell of negative thread. The Bollywood diva played it safe and didn’t react much; this can be one way to deal with trolls that start trending in no time.
Play Safe trick: No need to get into a rational conversation unless you know it’s the only right thing to do.
You can easily find trending hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, etc., created every second day by some attention-seeking trolls. They purposely stir up controversies and meaningless debates in social media communities. These are anonymous accounts feasting negativity with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response. The fact of the matter is that there is no running away from them and all that matters is your way of dealing with them.
Do not let the trolls get on your nerves. Learn the defense tricks
- Frame comment policy if you own a blog or community
Establishing a comment policy is first and foremost thing to deal with trolls on a blog or moderated community. It ensures that users are aware of what can or cannot be said on the platform. Moreover, this can also allow a more strict moderation of the discussion. Reddit, breeding ground of social trolls, has stringent comment policy to keep things under control.
- Ignore first, if necessary delete the comments
Even though many websites have well-laid comment policy, it does not deter trolls from posting useless comments, which have little or no meaning. When it happens, the best policy is to either ignore these comments or delete if possible and necessary. It is a known fact that trolls seek attention. They beat a dead horse and want others to get emotionally irritated with the comments so that they can steer the discussion elsewhere. This is why, if they do not get a response, they simply would just go away. This would work for managing comments under your personal blog or profile.
- Use your wit to counter them
There would be times when you find it difficult to ignore these trolls. Amid such chaos, you can use witty humor to counter them. Taco Bell did the same when trolled by an account on Twitter, poking comments that the former does not provide deliveries. Taco Bell took it lightheartedly and responded in positive manner that diffused the earlier comment altogether.
Taco Bell’s response is excellent for a few reasons. Ignoring this comment would not have been the right way to react and there was no need for an argument too. Their humor filled response resulted in 1,668 retweets and 1,361 favorites.
- Lay bare the truth behind trolls
As discussed earlier, internet trolls thrive on anonymity. They often use anonymous accounts, which allow them to tarnish the image of an individual or a business repeatedly. By taking away this power, you will make these trolls think twice before leaving a nasty comment. However, this does not mean, going after these trolls in order to reveal their identity. A fine example would be putting the light on their own mistakes when they criticise you on the same. Most of their posts are illogical and just focussing on it would make them trip on their own words.
- Fight back if you have convincing facts
Often it has been seen that internet trolls use misrepresentations and rumors to target individuals and businesses. If you become the target of the same, always fight back with facts. Best example would be the case when iPhone 6 was released. Prominently known as “bendgate,” there were many rumors that this phone could easily bend if kept in the pocket. Internet trolls had a field day, with comments after comments on how it affected them.
The situation got huge media coverage after rivals like Samsung and LG joined the party to poke jokes at Apple’s latest flagship phone. Apple took a stand against this trolling and responded to the crisis perfectly.
It stated that bend in iPhone is extremely rare and would not happen under regular use. Also, only nine customers had contacted Apple with a Bent iPhone 6 plus, which rubbished the rumors of widespread effect.
- If you are a brand never act like trollers on social media networks
As shown above, anonymous individuals are not the only ones involved in trolling, sometimes even rival businesses become the offenders, taking potshots at others. In the above case, Apple showed dignity and responded with facts. They could, however, have responded with same trolling making fun of its rival’s sales. However, that would show Apple similar to trollers. In addition, arguing with a troll is like yelling at a wall. It will not get you anywhere. So best practice would be to let the trolls do what is best for them.
- Unify other community members against the troll
I think most important troll repellant technique is putting a brick wall against them. A show of strength among other community members is vital and it would single out the troll. Moreover, if you have a loyal and collaborative community and followers, then you do not have to worry much about trolls and they can take care of them on their own. However, leaving the matters in the hands of novice members can result in things going out of hand. This is why you must keep a vigil on the situation and make sure everyone follows the above mentioned best practices.
Internet trolls have become a reality in the digital sphere and we have to accept them without further ado. It might seem tough but you can strike a balance and deal with the nuisance created by social media trolls with grace. As internet marketing strategist for several individuals and companies constantly deal with them and have accepted them as a part and parcel of social media. The above-mentioned best practices have helped me tremendously in warding off all the negativity brought to the table by these trolls.
Have you ever faced any trolling issues with them? Let our readers know through comments section.
Manish Bhalla is the CEO & Founder of FATbit Technologies, a global brand in the realm of web related products/services. As a part of IT industry, he is focused to offer best support and firmly believes in the power of web. His vision to make web solutions accessible and useful for startups and SMEs has brought FATbit in the good books of several established brands raised/supported by the company. Being in this business for 10+ years he holds crucial experience pertaining to design, development and digital marketing solutions and acts as business advisor for many entrepreneurs.
(image credit: Memo Angeles on ShutterStock)
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