Don’t Feed the Trolls: A Crash Course in Dealing With Twitter Trolls
September 13th, 2016 by
Beware of Trolls
Bridges, the mountains of Skyrim, and Twitter. What do these places all have in common? You have a chance of running across a troll that can ruin more than just your day. Bridge trolls aren’t much of an issue since human society has pushed them into barren lands where we’ll never see them again. If you happen to visit Skyrim, you’re sure to have learned how to cast at least one fire spell that can dispatch a troll with haste. If you’re on Twitter, you must adapt to conquer these trolls. They’re smart, resourceful, crude, arrogant, and once they lock in on a target, they won’t stop until it’s gone. It takes one to know one, so I will take it upon myself, a self-admitted troll, to help you identify and eradicate trolls that are attacking you.
What’s a Twitter Troll?
A Twitter Troll, or an Internet Troll in general, is someone who uses the magic of the internet to sew seeds of hatred wherever and whenever they can. No one really knows how it starts, but once it does, it can be very difficult to stop. Unfortunately, Twitter is infamous for being very lax when it comes to individuals spewing hatred, so oftentimes, you will be left alone and cold to deal with them.
How to Combat a Twitter Troll
In my opinion, Twitter doesn’t offer up enough support to deal with toxic entities that troll your business online. Luckily, they don’t have to. Trolls are very predictable, which means dealing with them can be a cinch if you know what you’re doing. Here are some guidelines to follow when engaging in combat:
1: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!
I swear on everything I hold dear, feeding the trolls will tarnish your image and make you appear just as immature as they are. This, of course, will end negatively for you and your business. Feeding trolls refers to responding to them in a negative fashion. This only fuels their ego and will make them continue to troll you. It may be tempting to be rash since they will likely come at you in a very aggressive, abrasive, crude, and rude manner, but I assure you that will only lead to them setting up shop in your mentions for the Twittersphere to see.
2: Develop an Action Plan
As I mentioned earlier, trolls are very predictable in their attacks. Though they are difficult to deal with, the predictability of their actions and responses makes a premade action plan with some flexibility your best friend. Having some example responses for your social media manager to use is a good way to defeat trolls before they have a chance to really get rolling.
3: Limit the Number of Responses
A hard limit on the number of responses given to trolls is a necessity. A constant back and forth will only fuel their strength and eventually drive you away from the realm of logic and reason. Continuing to engage in their toxic conversation will only succeed in eroding your own mental constitution to the point where your responses look as trivial and childish as the troll’s responses.
4: Don’t Give Them a Platform
In May of this year, a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure of the Cincinnati Zoo. He was confronted by a 17-year-old lowland gorilla named Harambe. Zookeepers were forced to kill the gorilla in an attempt to prevent him from injuring the boy. People were upset; Twitter was furious. Of course, heavy-hearted memes were shared, but eventually the pro-Harambe side devolved into an expletive-laced hashtag that was used in response to almost every tweet they sent out. All memes eventually die, but during an interview with the Associate Press, the Cincinnati Zoo director stated that, “We are not amused by the memes, petitions, and signs about Harambe.” This reignited the trolls with such a fierce intensity that they were forced to temporarily shut down their Twitter account. It takes more finesse than just saying, “stop” to truly shut down a troll.
5: Don’t Ignore Them
Possibly worse than telling a troll to “stop” is to not say anything at all. This will more than likely make them extremely volatile and cause them to find a new home inside of your mentions. Also, ignoring a troll allows them to spam you however they seem fit and provides no deterrent since they aren’t being addressed. Confronting them in a professional manner shows them that you don’t tolerate those actions and helps to deter other trolls from setting their sights on your business.
6: Know the Difference Between a Troll and a Customer
Sometimes, a troll isn’t a troll at all. The anonymity of the internet is known for adding otherwise absent machismo to some people. Knowing that tracking them down can sometimes prove an unfruitful waste of time can make people act quite recklessly. Your business needs to be able to determine the difference between a legitimate troll and an angry customer. This takes time, but one telltale sign is if the alleged troll is attacking your product versus attacking you. If they have an issue with your product and not with you, offer a direct message (DM) exchange to try to make things right in a more private manner. Being able to admit a mistake shows a level of authority and passion for your business and can keep customers that may otherwise leave.
7: Speaking of Mistakes…
Admit when you’re wrong. If you own a small local pizza restaurant, people obviously prefer to give you their money over a giant corporation like Domino’s, and don’t mind more than likely paying a premium price for your product. If you deliver an incorrect order, mess up a pizza en route, arrive later than promised, there’s no need to even try to argue. If you’re wrong, admit it, ask for their information via DM, and make an attempt to correct the mistake. The difference here is that your apology is public due to the nature of the complaint.
8: Utilize Available Tools
Twitter is admittedly terrible when it comes to dealing with trolls, but in light of recent events, they have gotten better. In addition to the standard block and mentions settings list, you can customize your settings further to ensure that users aren’t able to mention under certain circumstances. The quality filter will use a newly formed algorithm to help “ignore” low quality tweets and some toxic tweets as well. Tailoring your discovery and mention settings can create an environment that can stave off trolls to a large extent.
Twitter Is a Scary Place
The Twittersphere is not the easiest place to navigate and can be made even more difficult when trolls descend upon you. Top that off with actually running your business instead of being on Social Media all the time and your plate will end up fuller than mine when I go to the buffet. Here at Search Influence, we offer a full suite of social media services so that you can rest a bit easier and focus on running your business instead of running from trolls.