How to Handle Trolls?

If you have a comments section on your ecommerce site, or a social media presence, a troll will eventually plague you. While trolling can take a variety of forms, some arguably less offensive than others, knowing how to handle trolls can save you a lot of reputational damage. Your best tools in this regard are caution and common sense. Here’s how to deploy them.

How to Handle Trolls?

Pay Attention & Correct Errors
If, in fact, the troll has a genuine issue, address it right away. All they want is a little attention. Fix the problem, thank them publicly and they will usually crawl back underneath the rock from which they emerged. Besides, sometimes, what might at first appear to be a trolling attempt is a genuine customer with a legitimate concern. You have to be careful to discern the difference to avoid lumping the good in with the bad.

Avoidance Is Best
If you determine it is in fact a troll, whenever you have a choice, avoid dealing with them altogether. Let them vent and they’ll usually go away. Like a wildfire, if deprived of fuel, the troll will usually burn itself out. Engaging them gives them fuel upon which to feed. Don’t do it.

Beware the Decepti-troll
Sometimes they’ll start with flattering remarks to get you to respond; then turn on you. This is favored technique as they know people will avoid them if they come trolling right out of the gate. This can be tricky because true fans lead with compliments as well and you want to encourage those people to keep talking. Once you discover you’ve been sucked in though, remain civil, keep your comments minimal and stick to facts. Don’t get drawn into an emotional conversation, always stay rational.

Remember Logic Usually Won’t Work
If these trolls were rational people, they wouldn’t be engaging in troll-ish behavior. As a result, the more logical your responses, the more Troll-ogical their replies become. Remember, their goal is to attract an audience. They will do whatever they can to keep the exchange going—including twisting things you say out of context to keep the lunacy going. If your “discussion” is centered around a point of fact and you absolutely must set the record straight. Find three links to evidence supporting your assertion. Respond in the most polite fashion you can muster, pointing them to your findings and stop talking.

Employ Humor
Let’s say you’re selling beauty products from home and a troll attacks one of your instructional videos saying, “A monkey could do makeup better than that video.” You could respond by saying; “Thanks for your comment. We’ve tried monkeys and found them unwilling to work as often as the video does.” This acknowledges their comment without going on the attack, while simultaneously exposing the ludicrous nature of the comment. If you’re lucky, your loyal audience will take your response viral and garner your additional traffic.

Block Them
You can always ban them from posting comments in the future and take down their offending comments to prevent exposure to subsequent users. You can also set your comments section to permit publishing only after a post has been reviewed. The upside there is more control, the downside is this could easily become a full-time job with a busy site.

Bottom line, some people just love to hate. Arguing with them does no good, because they love to argue too. Ultimately, when it comes to how to handle trolls, caution and common sense are your best allies. Never let anyone dupe you into abandoning them.


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