Dealing With Trolls in Social MediaJuly 8th, 2010 by Li Evans
Dealing with the negative can be a pretty scary proposition for any company stepping into social media marketing, let alone having to manage it with a community. Some industries have a propensity for attracting negative opinions, conversations and experiences for their audience. Most of the time when people are sharing their negative experiences they are doing so because they were disappointed by the company in some way, shape or form. Most likely it was not intentional, your customers can sometimes have very high expectations and when your company cannot meet those expectations the disappointment ensues.
Upset Customer or Constant Complainer?
These situations are opportunities for companies to step up and resolve the negative issues at hand. If the person is sharing their experience in a somewhat rational manner, you can pretty well conclude that you have a disappointed customer on your hands. How you respond and react to this situation is critical, you’ll either turn them into a raving fan or leave them even more disappointed and spreading their negative experience to all of their network.
But what about those “other people”, you know, the ones that will never be happy? The ones that time and time again keep coming back at you telling you how horrible your company is? What do you do with these type of people in social media communities?
Will They Ever Be Happy?
There’s a term for these types of people, when you’ve been in and out of many different communities you can easily spot them as well, a lot of communities refer to these types of members as “Trolls”. Communities are smart, you can talk to that administrators and ask them “who are the trolls” and most likely they can readily point them out. These people are the constant complainers or every other day there’s some injustice done to them. Most of all no matter what anyone does or says, they are never happy – or the happiness is fleeting until the next day when some new unjust situation arises.
How do you know the difference between these “Trolls” and the “Disappointed Customer”? There’s some tall tale signs that once you do your research into your social media communities you’ll be able to tell rather easily who are the people that tend to be legitimate & valuable contributors to the community and those who are just there to constantly complain. More than likely those “trolls” aren’t just on one community spouting their story either, they are on several because at the end of the day their satisfaction is gained by the attention they receive by complaining.
Publicly Offer to Take the Conversation Out of the Community to Be Resolved
The best approach in dealing with these types of community members is to first acknowledge and then apologize for their negative experience. Once you do that, then offer to speak to them about how you can amend the situation offline, give them the opportunity to contact you privately through the community’s messaging system. This does two things, it stops the “troll” from saying “no one’s listening to me” or “they won’t do a damn thing”, then it also shows the rest of the community that you are serious about engaging with them and resolving even negative situations. If you do this in a calm and professional manner, you’ll earn respect from the community members.
If the troll comes back and complains then that your resolution to the situation isn’t sufficient for them and they’ve displayed this pattern in the past, the influential community members tend to ignore or even step up for the company that offered to resolve the situation, putting the troll in their place. Just resist the temptation to come back and “flame” the troll, this is what they want. Sometimes silence or a controlled response is the best response. The community has already seen you attempted to resolve the situation, and they most likely know this person is a constant complainer. At the end of the day if you are true & transparent in your efforts with the community, your efforts won’t be ignored, but the troll’s constant complaining will be.
I’ve got a saying I like to share with companies dealing with situations like these: “Don’t feed the Troll your baby goats, just pass by silently“
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