Fight the Good Fight: How to Deal with Internet Trolls

As social media grows more important in your content marketing mix, it’s essential to know how to deal with the dreaded Internet Troll.

The Internet troll is a scary sort of fellow, though he may in fact be a she. You never know for sure, because this ugly creature basks anonymously under the bridge and uses a pseudo-identity to jump out and make controversial, inflammatory, rude and disruptive comments on your social media.

Everybody dreads an Internet troll, but there are ways to deal with this monster’s sinister ways.

Avoiding Internet trolls

The first step to avoiding a run-in with a troll is foiling his or her participation in the group in the first place.

A troll isn’t the kind of person willing to reveal their real identity. So require community members to use a real name when registering (no monickers or pseudonyms). Then you must research them (examples: on LinkedIn, Twitter) before approving them to comment.

Implementing Facebook commenting is another way encourage real identity and reduce troll participation. Commenting is tied to the participant’s Facebook account, and this will eliminate most trollers from contention.

Of course, trolls are the kinds of people that have a lot of time on their hands, so they’re not averse to creating pseudo-identities to gain access to your social media commenting. You can’t keep all the trolls out – just the lazy ones (which is many of them).

But sometimes a troll shows up.

Dealing with trolls

Uh oh. You get a few complaints that there’s some trolling going on, you check it out, and sure enough there it is: Something mean-spirited, vulgar, inflammatory, derogatory, you name the adjective. But the bottom line is: It’s off-topic, it’s negative, it’s probably in very poor taste, and it’s likely cruel to somebody or some group. It’s vitriol.

What do you do?

Evaluate: Is it really trolling?

The first step is deciding whether the commentary is trolling or not. A constructive complaint or a legitimate concern is not trolling. Is the comment on-topic? You can’t just delete “the bad” and ignore real issues. Part of social media’s job is to turn those conversations to the positive, to show the customer you care and want to fix issues.

But if you truly have some trolling going on, you can’t just let it fester.

Ignore it.

Like most deviants, someone that is afraid to reveal their true identity but enjoys causing problems in your community, is probably looking for attention. So ignore the commentary, and post/request that the rest of the community do the same.

Without any satisfaction, the troll may go elsewhere.

Engaging the troll is a recipe for disaster. Why would you want to? That’s playing in to their game. They’ll have more fun where the community gets riled up.

Invoke community guidelines and kick out the troll.

If the trolling doesn’t stop, it’s time to snuff out the situation at its core.

Your first action item here (if it’s not already done) is to write and post Community Guidelines, and have all members read and agree to them (X’ing their acknowledgment) before joining. Invoke this document, which must give you the option of closing member accounts, and use it to delete the troll’s access to the community and stop their ability to post.

The troll may have enough energy to try and set up another identity and get back in, but their lack of success (see Ignore It) means that they’ll probably look for other places to troll.

Conclusion

Avoiding trolls altogether is your best solution. But when a real troll does sneak through into your social media, don’t play their game. Then throw them off the bridge if they keep trying to stir up trouble.

Hungry for more? Check out these related posts: You Talkin’ to Me? The Power of User-Generated ContentKey to Social Media Success: Unlocking User-Generated Content

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