Trolls live under bridges and you should never feed them

2 August 2016
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As any company’s audience grows, and as we embrace what was laughingly described as ‘new media’ just a few years ago (and is now for many the ‘only’ media), the influx of comments on the company’s shiny new social media channels will grow!

A gritty fact of life, which companies must accept, is that the larger their online presence, the more people will look at their content with a critical eye – or worse.

No matter the overall goals for your new corporate social media account, you must be ready to answer the individuals who respond to your posts. Below are some tips for handling the comments that may come your way in a crisis.

Picture the scene. Your vessel has suffered a bump and grind at a dock or a few litres of oil has been spilled but quickly cleaned up using local booms and equipment. Or possibly something bigger, but either way, the event has made the news.

You remember to post the various statements online and sit back. Job done. Not quite.

  • If someone posts positively about your company and your efforts. Thank them. Simple.
  • If they’re neutral, then perhaps consider starting a conversation, they may become an advocate for the company.
  • If the respondent has a genuine complaint, then it’s worth acknowledging the issue. Engage your operational people and consider moving the conversation to a less public forum – direct email or a telephone call.
  • Perhaps someone is just plainly upset and doesn’t want to listen. Consider replying politely to their comment. If they come back, reply in a similarly polite way. As for a third time? Remember the power of three. Ignore the comment, but offer that they can contact you directly to discuss the issue more fully. Don’t worry, they won’t. Most commentators just want a public forum to show off their robust point of view.
  • If it’s a troll i.e. someone with too much time on their hands – a keyboard warrior who might be prone to writing stupid comments – then ignore them. But don’t delete the comment. It shows you can allow some dissension on your pages.
  • If, however, the comments are malicious or offensive, screenshot the comment and remove it. Explain as the moderator that the comment breached the house rules. You can block the offender if necessary.
  • If it is spam, then treat the post as you would any offensive or malicious content. Screenshot, delete and block.

Sometimes, unfortunately, you may actually receive threats or sinister comments. These comments can have legal or criminal ramifications. These could include:

  • Threats of violence
  • Breaches of confidentiality
  • Defamation

Screen shot the comment immediately. Escalate the mater to your legal advisers, management or potentially to the police for further advice as necessary.

Don’t forget: trolls live under bridges and you should never feed them.

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