Burning Bridges: How Businesses Can Outsmart Trolls on Social Media

By: Amanda Woodard

According to folklore, most trolls live under high-traffic bridges and charge tolls to cross over them. Like the trolls of legend, the trolls of social media tend to gravitate toward high-traffic sites and pester social media users with many followers. When users see negative responses to their posts, they typically respond with a counterargument, thinking to settle the misunderstanding.

troll gif

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What most people don’t know is that responding to trolls with malice or reason is like paying their tolls. You’re giving them the funds to continue being a nuisance. When it comes to trolls, what you really need to do is burn their bridges, and shut them down completely. Here are three ways to do just that:

  1. If you must respond, do it carefully

As mentioned in the introduction, if a responder is a true troll, then reason or insults are not going to help (and, actually, the latter could really hurt your reputation as a business). If you must respond, you can say something simple like “I’m sorry you feel that way. Here’s a coupon for the inconvenience. [Link].” This has to be something that you would do with any other unsatisfied customer—although you shouldn’t expect to get a “thank you” afterward. This response is really about showing your other, non-aggressive followers that you can handle business professionally.

If you’re feeling brave, you could comment with a little joke—at your own expense, not at the expense of the user. This shows your non-aggressive followers the more human side of your business, that you are relatable. Relatability goes a long way when it comes to increasing ROI later on.

Troll response

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  1. Write clear guidelines

Create conduct guidelines to set clear expectations of how you want people to interact on your page. It’s best to write out these guidelines in a blog and post the link in the Bio or About Me section of your profile. In these guidelines, you can make things like profanity, bullying and harassment grounds for having a comment deleted or having a user blocked from your page.

  1. Create consistent consequences

If a user violates one of your guidelines, do what you said you would do. This is actually pretty easy to do on Facebook—and the great thing about it is that you don’t have to wait for an offense to occur. In your settings, you can make comments containing certain words not show up on your profile at all. On other social media channels, you’ll have to manually monitor your comments to find these social media (ab)users.

If you follow these instructions, you will effectively burn the bridges connecting trolls to your business!

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism