Trolls on social media in particular and Internet in general are as much a reality as normal people. Anybody can become a target of trolls at any moment. You just have to say something different or disagree with a known thought or a known personality and there you go.
Even as a business you can become target of trolls just as a brand tarnishing activity. Your competitors can set groups of trolls upon you not just to create negative content about your business and your brand, but to also personally lower down your moral and create confusion among your followers, friends and visitors.
Complaints on social media on the other hand can be genuine and exaggerated and you should handle them accordingly. Many people use Twitter and Facebook to express dissent when they are not satisfied with a particular product or service and this is natural. Since people use social media to express themselves and exchange information and in many instances Facebook and Twitter have become primary modes of communication rather than email, they become the natural outlet. They might not be doing it intentionally but this is how they articulate. Besides, when people express their dissatisfaction openly they hope the business will respond faster.
Whether you are promoting a personal brand or a business you need to have a clear-cut strategy on how to handle trolls and complaints on social media because you simply cannot avoid them. This online marketing blog has some nice tips on the subject.
First of all track all complaints. You can use different tools like Hootsuit and Google alerts to find out who is talking about you or your business and what is being said. Since you are a business, you have to follow certain conventions when it comes to interacting with people who have a problem with your product or service. Don’t get personal no matter how badly you are provoked. Remain polite in public and try to respond – preferably with a solution – as soon as possible, and that too, publicly, so that people can see that you have responded.
You also need to distinguish between genuine complaining and out and out trolling. Just because people are complaining doesn’t mean that they are trolling – they may have real concerns. As you interact on social media more and more you begin to differentiate fast.
If you have got multiple employees managing your multimedia profiles then you can create a database of probable complaints and issues people may raise on various social media websites and prepare answers and solutions in advance accordingly. There must also be strict dos and don’ts regarding what language your team should use while interacting with people as well as trolls on social media.
Should you respond to trolls?
Just as not all complainants are trolls, not all trolls are bad. Some may raise genuine issues that you need to take care of. So yes, it might be quite time-consuming but you have to track all the messages whether they are coming from well-meaning complainants or trolls. Afterwards you have to use your discretion how you want to respond.
An ideal way is to maintain your cool. Use easy-going language and as already mentioned above, don’t get provoked. Humor is always preferable over strictly official jargon. Don’t respond if you don’t know how to respond but don’t say anything that you would later regret. Remain friendly to even trolls. You can stop responding if you feel you have said whatever you had to say and the discussion is getting into a meaningless loop.
All in all, since trolling and complaining is very much a part of social media and social networking you must have, as an individual and as a business, a clear-cut strategy on how to handle them.