Whether you’re browsing the web to hunt for a product or you’re a business trying to reach an audience online, there’s one negative yet inherent quality of the Internet that continues to irritate everyone. I am, of course, talking about trolls, and even though Google is growing incredibly more sophisticated with each passing year, it still hasn’t found a way to completely cure the online trolling problem.
And if you’ve built a business website or set up a Facebook business page to reach your audience, watch out! Sooner or later you’re going to encounter a troll that wants to spit hate, fire, slander, and intentionally provocative language on your digital marketing campaign. But how are we supposed to deal with trolls? You might be tempted to shoot back an angry and witty retort, but I’d caution you to take the high road.
Since you’re posting from a business account, everything you say, do, and the post will reflect on your business. If you’re going to engage a troll, it’s best not to stoop to their level, or the digital audience you’ve been growing could erode overnight. To avoid getting taken advantage of by an angry troll, use the following tips to handle trolling with caution, optimism, and dignity.
Tip #1: Fact Check
If a troll makes a post on your content pages or social media pages claiming that your content is fake, wrong, or a lie, you can easily remedy the situation with fact-checking. It’s a simple matter to post a link to a resource that backs up your claims, but be careful. Remember, it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
First of all, you don’t want to appear as though you’re angry or trying to prove someone wrong out of spite. Also, you want to make sure that the resource you link to is credible. If you can quote multiple reputable sources whose claims all agree with each other, even better. And even though the troll may not believe you, the fact-checking comments still remain for the benefit of other visitors and users.
Tip #2: Disengage
Disengage may sound like a taboo, especially in the realm of digital marketing where businesses constantly try to get users to engage with their content and brand. But sometimes, trolls post comments that slip through the cracks. Some trolls post comments that skirt the line of what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and these types of comments don’t necessarily break any rules.
For instance, there may not be any cursing or hateful speech in the comment. Or they may not make a direct comment relating to your business or product, but the comment was clearly made to get under your skin. In these instances, just let it go. If the comment isn’t negative to you, your business, or your other visitors, the don’t engage – just take the high road. Don’t feed the trolls’ egos; they thrive off your responses!
Tip #3: Moderate Comments
Don’t be afraid to remove comments that are hateful, slanderous, or seem that they were posted to intentionally incite angry reactions. Most social media commenting plugins for websites come with some sort of moderation tools. Some of which require you to approve comments before they are posted, while others will send you notifications by email every time someone posts on your site.
Assuming that you’re not getting hundreds of comments a day, these tools are great ways to field comments to avoid offensive trolls. If a user continually posts offensive comments that need to be deleted, you may need to go as far as to block their account from posting any future comments. However, be careful not to abuse your power. Flippantly deleting comments on a whim will make your business appear untruthful and thin-skinned. Make sure you only moderate truly offensive and heinous trolls.
Tip #4: Create a Policy Regarding Acceptable Comments
Given that trolls are simply a part of the Internet, you may want to take preventative measures by setting up some sort of acceptable use or commenting policy for your website. Contrary to popular belief, such as policy doesn’t need to be filled with legalese, since you are the owner and operator of the website and control the content.
For example, take a look at the Huffington Post’s Code of Conduct Policy, which is located on their FAQ page. Displaying the rules and guidelines for posting on your site will help to communicate to your audience what types of posts are acceptable, and what types of posts will be viewed as inflammatory trolling.
For instance, you may want to warn users that hateful language, hostile comments, racist comments, and other similar trolling rhetoric will not be tolerated. Then, if a troll messages you asking why their post was deleted, you can simply send a link to the acceptable comment policy and not engage any more than necessary.
Tip #5: Consider Omitting Social Media Commenting Tools Altogether
Some industries and niches are controversial by nature. Whether you operate in an industry where there’s a new hot fashion trend or a new technology, controversy attracts trolls like moths to a flame. The same holds true for news sites, especially political sites. Remember that social media comments aren’t a necessity for your website, though, in many instances, they can add a lot of value and engage users.
But if your industry is too racy or controversial, you may want to save yourself a ton of headaches and just omit any commenting tools. Otherwise, you may need to hire a full-time employee to constantly monitor and moderate the comments on your content. Just avoid the trolls completely by adopting the “ounce of prevention” mantra.
Trolls are the bane of any business’s digital marketing endeavors, and trolls can really cause lasting harm to your reputation…but only if you let them. Instead of letting trolls manipulate you and your audience with hateful language, use these tips to take the mature high road. Otherwise, all of the time and energy you’ve poured into your marketing campaign could regress because of one angry, loud troll.
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