Trolls – the name says it all. Could you think of a viler name to describe a certain type of person? Negativity oozes from the illustrative noun and this is why we use the term to refer to the riff-raff who spend their time:
a) Using abusive and harsh language to attack individuals, groups or brands on social media
b) Posting senselessly across multiple platforms at an incredibly fast rate
c) Ignoring the opportunity to have a problem resolved, instead just trying to make the situation worse
d) Under bridges not letting people cross
Sadly trolls are all over the social media, and just like in real life they are unpleasant, anti-social and have a sole purpose in life to make other peoples’ lives as miserable as their own.
Brands and organization cop the brunt of troll behaviour regularly. As if a brand crisis isn’t enough to deal with already, having to deal with people publicly posting unfair and destructive comments is the last thing a social media manager needs.
Often these people aren’t even customers of the brand they are abusing. They literally comb the Internet looking for opportunities to pounce. They lack any ability to listen to reason and have no interest in a solution to the problem.
Here are five early warning signs that you’re dealing with a troll:
- Bad grammar and spelling. People who have nothing better to do than be a troll probably didn’t do very well in school.
- Lousy profiles. Lack of profile picture, incomplete biographical information, no photo albums, (predictively) no friends.
- Lack of knowledge. Their facts certainly lack and they tend to replace a solid argument with swear words.
- Love attention. Completely underserved attention is all they get and you will watch them squirm when they are ignored.
- Exaggerate everything. Their goal is to exaggerate and aggravate. Instead of using the word “some” they would ignorantly use the word “every”.
When a brand identifies a troll and exactly what kind of troll they are, it becomes time to assess the situation. Often a brand will need to take a step back and realise that interacting with these people is in no way constructive. Of course brands have a social responsibility to communicate with people who are using social media to genuinely express their opinions and qualms, but responding to a troll’s comments is only feeding the fire and they love it.
It’s also particularly unwise for other customers to interfere. As loyal as it is to stand up for someone or something at a time of need, it’s just not worth it. The trolls will readily abuse anyone or anything that tries to defuse the situation and it will do nothing but leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
As frustrating as it is to sit back and say nothing as you watch the pack attack, it’s really best to just leave it up to the social media platforms to deal with it. They are really the ones who need to deal with the problem because they have a responsibility to look after their users. Think of them as security – help can often be slow and delayed, but it will come.