How to Deal With Social Media Trolls and Spammers

  • On : June 16, 2022

When a business begins building its online presence via social media, some of its main expectations are to get engagement from its audience so that they continue to develop their brand and get more exposure. However, not all interactions with an audience is pleasant. Social media being a powerful tool, allows people to give feedback or comments, both positive and negative. However, some take constructive criticism to extreme lengths and become borderline rude, insensitive, or even mean. Internet trolls and spammers are an unfortunate side effect of any community forums on the Internet. A recent survey showed that 41% of Americans had faced online harassment before.

These trolls can become harmful to your business if left unattended. Here are a few practices to help manage such trolls if you ever come across them:

  1. Establish ‘No Trolling’ policies

Whether it’s a social media platform, discussion groups or forums, or even blog posts, establish a guideline of rules on the etiquette you expect from your audience. Having a ‘no trolls’ policy will ensure that if you come across a troll and delete or block them, you can point back to your policy and refer to any violations they may have crossed.

  1. Troll or complaint?

It is essential to understand whether you are dealing with a troll or an unsatisfied customer who has genuine complaints but vocalizes them unpleasantly. It can be hard sometime to distinguish between the two but look at the language used. Is it frustration with your service or product or misplaced anger? If it’s a complaint, be transparent, address the problem, and try your best to resolve it. If an issue is resolved, they will cease to comment; however, if it continues and seems to get progressively worse, it would be best to disengage.

  1. Monitoring social media platforms

Depending on your resources available, have in-house employees or an outsourced digital media agency monitor and moderate your business’s social media platforms and across the comments section of each posted content. Doing so actively daily or weekly will make it easier to identify trolls and quickly handle them before things may escalate. It could also be possible to help prevent trolling behavior.

You could also use the many tools social media platforms now offer to help with moderating a comment section. For example, Instagram’s reporting option for policy violations, YouTube’s comment settings for automatic moderation, Twitter’s reporting option for abusive or harassing tweets, Facebook and WordPress’s comment moderation plugins, and so on.

  1. Avoid engaging with the trolls

The common saying, ‘don’t add fuel to the fire’ applies here. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to ignore the trolls. Often, once they realize they’re being ignored, they will soon get bored and move on. Continue to delete comments so that other audiences will not see them, but don’t respond to them no matter how tempting it may be. Stay calm and keep your emotions out of it; otherwise, it could spiral into something that could negatively impact your business’s image.

  1. Respond with humor – when appropriate.

Most trolls want attention. While they try to bring down your brand, if responded to carefully, they could provide you an opportunity to diffuse the situation with humor. However, you first need to assess the nature of the comment before engaging with humor. If it’s serious, humor will more likely exacerbate the situation, but if it’s not harming your business’s image or harmful to audiences, playful and witty banter could even lead to small positive publicity. Be careful, however, because if the humor doesn’t stick, it’ll create more opportunities for the troll to take advantage of.

  1. Respond with facts

More often than not, a troll’s argument isn’t logical, and in such scenarios, the best response would be to stay calm and ask for sources to back their claims. Or disprove any statements with cold hard facts from your end. It’s most likely that they were looking to have a debate with you but denying them that satisfaction will end the matter as quickly as it started. Responding professionally and letting them know you are aware of the problem and taking care of it already will also quieten trolls.

  1. Report, Block or Ban

Trolls – while annoying – are most often harmless and better left ignored. However, there may be instances when things escalate and may turn abusive, threatening, or hate speech. In such situations, the best thing to do would be to report them to the social media platform and block or ban them from accessing your social media in the future. If they violate the platform’s rules, the platform could also permanently remove them.

A somewhat silver lining about having Internet trolls is that it most likely shows that your business has been growing enough to be on their radars; however, your hard work into getting so far should not be tarnished by them either. Don’t stoop to their level but rather use professional ways to handle them, which other audience members could see and grow to appreciate your business.