7 practical tips to deal with social media trolls

Kunal Arora

January 3, 20249 min read

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Social media has drastically transformed the way we communicate, bond and do business in today’s digital world. It offers a platform for individuals and brands to interact with their audience, promote their products or services and share their stories. However, the same platforms that enable this connectivity have also given rise to a dreaded phenomenon that everyone refers to as social media trolling. 

Social media trolling is more than just a difference of opinion or constructive criticism; it's a systematic and often harmful way of disrupting, hurting or provoking individuals or brands. Therefore, individuals, brands and public figures would do well to understand what trolling entails and how to navigate it.  

Table of Contents

What is social media trolling? 

Social media trolling is the deliberate act of posting provocative, offensive or disruptive content on social media platforms with the intent to incite anger, confusion or controversy.  

Trolls thrive on chaos and feed on the negative reactions of their targets. This behavior can manifest in various forms, from hurtful comments and personal attacks to spreading false information or cyberbullying. 

Here are a few examples. 

  • Name-calling: Trolls often resort to derogatory language and personal attacks to provoke their targets.  

  • Spreading false information: Some trolls share false information, whether about a brand, individual or some topical issue, to create confusion or controversy. 

  • Cyberbullying: This involves consistent and severe harassment online. Cyberbullying can have severe consequences on an individual's mental health. 

  • Hate speech: Trolls may use hate speech to target individuals or groups based on their race, religion or beliefs, aiming to stir emotions and escalate conflict. 

  • Sockpuppeting: Trolls create fake profiles to support their own trolling efforts or amplify the impact of their attacks. 

Read More: Social media challenges: Meaning, benefits, examples and tips 

How do social media trolls impact brands? 

Social media trolls can negatively impact brands in the following ways:

  1. Damage to reputation
    Companies invest heavily in building a positive brand image on social media. However, trolls can tarnish a brand's image with negative comments, fake reviews and damaging narratives. A series of negative posts can make it challenging for brands to maintain their reputation. 

  2. Loss of customers 
    When potential customers encounter troll-driven negativity, they sometimes choose to disconnect from your brand. Thus, negative publicity can drive potential buyers away, resulting in lost sales and opportunities. 

  3. Eroding trust 
    Trust is the cornerstone of any brand's success. Continuous trolling can erode trust in a brand, making it difficult to build a loyal customer base. Customers may question your authenticity and the values you uphold. 

  4. Resource drain
    Dealing with trolls can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Responding to their provocations, moderating comments and managing the fallout require allocation of valuable resources that could have been channeled toward more important activities. 

  5. Legal consequences 
    Extreme trolling might lead to legal actions against the brand or its employees. This can be both costly and damaging to a brand's reputation, especially if legal disputes become public. 

7 effective tips to smartly deal with trolls on social media 

Now that we understand the adverse impact of trolls, let's look at seven practical strategies to tackle them head-on. 

1. Don't feed the trolls 

The first rule of dealing with trolls is to not engage with them. By ignoring them, you deny them the attention they crave. Trolls often thrive on getting a reaction, and responding to them can escalate the situation. It's vital to remember that you can't reason with someone whose primary goal is to provoke. 

However, ignoring doesn't mean you are powerless. You can use the social media platform's in-built privacy settings to mute or block trolls and report their behavior to platform administrators. This approach ensures that you are not contributing to the chaos while safeguarding your online space. 

2. Monitor your platforms 

Use social media monitoring to keep an eye on conversations around your brand. Early detection can prevent issues from escalating. By being vigilant, you can address potential trolling situations before they become a full-blown crisis. 

Regularly check your brand's mentions, plus hashtags and keywords associated with your industry or niche. This way, you'll stay informed about the conversations taking place around your brand and thus be able to respond in time when needed. 

Pro Tip: With Sprinklr Media Monitoring & Analytics, never miss out on critical brand mentions across 5 traditional and 30+ digital and social channels. It uses AI-based crisis detection to ensure you’re notified whenever someone is talking about your business or products, so you can proactively safeguard your brand reputation.

Brand mention overview via Sprinklr-s social media monitoring capabilities

Deep Dive: A simple guide to social media analytics for marketers 

3. Develop a response plan 

Create a clear and consistent plan for responding to trolls. This could involve a set of pre-approved social media moderation guidelines or responses for your social media team. Having a solid response plan in place ensures that your brand's reaction to trolls remains ethical and professional. 

For instance, you might establish different levels of responses, ranging from simple comments to addressing potential legal threats. By outlining this in advance, your team can react swiftly and in a manner that is in line with your brand's values. 

4. Filter and block 

Most social media platforms provide tools to filter and block users who engage in trolling behavior. Use these features to maintain a healthy online environment. Filter settings can help screen out inappropriate content and specific keywords, reducing the chances of trolls infiltrating your social accounts. 

Blocking trolls individually is another effective strategy. By doing this, you prevent them from accessing your social profiles, limiting their ability to post harmful content on your posts or engage with your followers. 

5. Maintain professionalism 

When you respond to trolls, do so professionally and maintain high standards of conduct that reflect positively on your brand and resonate with your audience. A calm, rational response can deflate the intentions of the troll. A hostile response can often make the situation worse. 

Your audience and potential customers are watching. A professional and composed response demonstrates that your brand maintains its integrity even in the face of adversity. Keep your responses brief, factual and focused on maintaining a positive brand image. 

6. Report and document 

Many social media platforms allow users to report abusive behavior. Be sure to document the trolling and report it to the platform's administrators. Reporting is crucial, especially in severe cases of harassment or hate speech. By reporting, you not only protect your brand but also contribute to making the online environment safer for all users. 

Keep records of the trolling, including screenshots, timestamps and any relevant details. This documentation may be valuable if legal action becomes necessary. It also helps make a compelling case when reporting to the platform. 

Read More: How does having a social media policy benefit your business? 

7. Educate your audience 

Sometimes, educating your audience about trolls and their tactics can be an effective way to deter trolling behavior. Make posts or create content explaining what trolling is and the impact it can have on an individual or a brand. Encourage your audience to report trolls and not engage with them. By creating awareness, you foster a supportive community that discourages trolling. 

You can also use the opportunity to reinforce your brand values and commitment to a positive online environment. Make it clear that your brand takes a strong stand against trolling and promotes respectful communication. 

Best practices to reduce the impact of social media trolling 

To further fortify your brand against trolling, consider these best practices: 

AI-powered sentiment analysis 

Real-time sentiment analysis with Sprinklr-s AI-powered tool

AI-powered social media sentiment analysis is a game-changer in dealing with trolls. These tools can automatically detect negative sentiment and offensive content, allowing you to react swiftly to potential trolls. 

They work by analyzing text and identifying keywords and phrases associated with negative emotions or trolling behavior. When such content is flagged, you can receive alerts or automated responses to contain the situation before it escalates. 

Read More: How to use trend analysis to maximize social listening 

Social listening

Social listening tools track your brand mentions, keywords and trending topics, providing insights into what the online chatter is about your brand. This way you can identify potential issues before they blow up, enabling you to respond proactively. Moreover, these tools allow you to identify and engage with brand advocates who will rally behind your cause during trolling incidents. 

Deep Dive: What’s the difference between social monitoring and social listening? 

Crisis management plan  

Develop a comprehensive social media crisis management plan that outlines how your brand should respond to different levels of trolling and negative publicity. This plan needs to include all potential scenarios and provide step-by-step guidelines for addressing each of them. 

A well put together crisis management plan includes: 

  • Contact information of key team members responsible for managing crises 

  • Pre-approved messaging templates for different situations 

  • Protocols for escalating issues to legal or public relations teams 

  • Well-defined procedure to inform employees about crisis response measures 

By having a clear roadmap for tackling trolling incidents, your brand can respond in a timely fashion and minimize damage. 

Read More: Brand crisis management: How to protect your brand when things go viral 

How to use social media trolls to improve brand awareness  

Now that we have discussed the top strategies for dealing with trolls, let’s also look at ways we can use social media trolls to raise our brand awareness.

1. Leverage humor 

A witty and humorous response to a Twitter user

Source 

Using humor to respond to trolls has a remarkable effect of winning your audience's favor and diffusing tense moments. It's particularly effective when the trolling is relatively light-hearted and not excessively hurtful. 

You can include clever wordplay, memes or witty comebacks when replying to trolls. By taking a light-hearted approach, you demonstrate your brand's ability to stay cool under pressure, which helps you win more followers. 

2. Highlight positivity

KFC-s positive, honest and factual response to social media trolling

Source 
 
Use trolling incidents as an opportunity to showcase the positive aspects of your brand. Share stories of customer satisfaction, honesty, positive reviews or successful initiatives.  

By acknowledging the situation and choosing to focus on the positive, you can shift the conversation away from the trolls and back to the strengths and successes of your brand. Regularly publishing positive content can also help balance the narrative, making trolling incidents appear as outliers rather than the norm. 

3. Engage constructively 

Denver International Airport-s constructive post in response to alien conspiracy theories

Source 

In some cases, you can engage with trolls in a constructive manner. This approach involves inviting trollers to share their concerns and offering to address them. While it may not always lead to a complete resolution, it can demonstrate your brand's willingness to listen and take action when necessary. 

Constructive engagement can be particularly useful when trolls raise valid points or concerns that merit a response. By addressing these issues professionally, you can potentially turn a negative experience into a positive one. 

Also Read: Building customer loyalty in 10 easy ways 

4. Community engagement 

Embrace trolling as a way to engage your social media community in meaningful discussions. Encourage your loyal followers to participate in the conversation and share their positive experiences with your brand. This not only helps drown out the noise created by trolls but also cultivates a sense of community among your audience. 

You can organize Q&A sessions, contests or polls related to your brand or industry, which not only divert attention away from trolls but also boost engagement. When your followers actively participate in these discussions, it not only strengthens brand loyalty but also improves your overall brand awareness and perception. 

Read More: How to build a successful brand community 

Final thoughts 

Social media trolling is a challenge that all brands and individuals face these days.

By employing the tips and best practices outlined in this blog, you can effectively manage trolls and even turn them into winning opportunities for growth and positive engagement. 

It's important to remember that trolls thrive on negative attention. By staying professional and using tools like Sprinklr Social, which offers advanced capabilities like AI-powered sentiment analysis, you can minimize the impact of trolls and create a positive online environment for your brand and your audience. 

Furthermore, such tools help in establishing a deeper connection with your audience and assist in managing your social media presence more effectively.

Book a personalized demo with Sprinklr to learn more. 

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