As you start to grow your brand, you will, in turn, grow your followers, fans and customers. Whilst this brings with it great rewards but this will never mean you experience a total absence of negativity, especially now in the age of digital and social media.

No matter how hard you try, there is no avoiding that there will always be people eager to bring you down just because, well, why not? In the world of the internet, these are often referred to as trolls. There is no avoiding them but there are a few ways that you can deal with them and hopefully make them stop.

So first off…

What is a troll?

A troll is someone who deliberately provokes others online, typically through inflammatory, offensive or provocative comments. Their intent is to upset others and elicit an emotional response (preferably an angry one).

What can I do?

Firstly, it’s important to work out whether it is a troll or a genuine customers with legitimate concerns. It can sometimes be quite difficult to work out as both will more than likely adopt an angry tone in their posts. What you need to look at is the substance of their communications. Genuine customers will be looking for a resolution whereas the troll may be looking to incite anger towards your brand with other online.

Once you have worked out that someone is a troll, it then comes down to how you respond. How you respond can impact your brand and reputation. We are going to discuss a few tactics that can help you defuse the negative situation in the best possible way.

Here are five simple ways of keeping trolls at bay and avoiding any damage to your reputation.

1. Hide any negative comments from your social media profiles

Now, this isn’t something you will be able to use across all social media platform. It works extremely well on Facebook. If you manage a page, it can be effective to remove any negative comments. Hiding comments means only they will be able to view it and the rest of your audience won’t.

This can work much better rather than deleting the post altogether.

Why? This is because trolls are looking for that reaction. So by deleting it, you are giving them a reaction, and more than likely will only repost a negative comment anyway. Besides that, the more engagement you have the better will be your exposure so bottom line the troll even helps you without noticing this.

However, if there is no hide option, deleting it still works – just be prepared to spend more time deleting posts.

2. Block the troll and any related specific keywords

If you notice that the same people are visiting you over and over. You can opt to block that person altogether, which is an option available on all of the social media platforms.

You can even take that one step further and ban specific keywords or profanities. So if you know people use the same negative words against your brand, you can have these blocked. The downside to doing that is you may actually miss out on some genuine feedback from your fans. 

Responding and helping customers will help improve your relationship and trust in you as a brand, so just be careful if you choose to ban keywords.

3. Use Humor

If you decide that actually you want to face negativity head on an effective way to disarm a troll is to use humor.

In theory, this sounds great, but it can actually be very tough to execute successfully. However the use of humor can humanize your brand and often help diffuse the situation. This can be a very effective strategy, but is extremely difficult to pull off as sometimes its hard to get across humour in writing on social media, what your thought was clever and funny, may be interpreted as mean. That in turn could actually generate more negativity.

There have been plenty of examples of use of humour to counteract negativity towards a brand. Sainsbury’s have used it successfully.

By making light of a troll’s tweet, you simultaneously acknowledge and defuse the situation.

4. Correct any false facts

Trolls come in many forms with one of them being based on negative lies. If that’s the case then this may well be the response for you. Going back clearly and calmly – you don’t want to come across defensive in your response, reply to them with the correct information.

More than likely this won’t bother the troll, as they probably know what they’ve written is lies, but not everyone within your community will know that so your response is to them. The people reading the trolls post and potentially forming a negative opinion about your brand. The idea is to nip it in the bud before it has the chance to escalate.

If trolls are spreading rumors, tweeting wrong information or posting inaccuracies, nip it in the bud. The best way to disprove tales told by trolls is with facts.

5. Ignore Them

Last but not least is to simply ignore whatever they comment on the post. Because trolls are just looking for attention, the theory is that by ignoring them and refusing to give them that attention, they don’t get what they want from you so will move on to someone else.

I’ve found this can work really well sometimes but not in others. I’ve had it where you ignore a troll but someone else within your community responds to them, which then in turn fuels the troll. If this does happen though, quite simply empty one of the tactics we have discussed above.

Conclusion

So whilst it may seem personal and can often be quite difficult to deal with trolls, there are methods you can use. Ultimately trolls are people too- something worth remembering before you decide on any action you may take.

Always be respectful and kind in your responses. With that in mind and using the tactics above, taming the trolls should become like second nature.

Most importantly don’t let them get to you or drag you down to their level.