Sticks, Stones, and Advocates


If you are a blogger, community manager, or simply spend time on social media, you have had a run in with a troll.  Rather than using their experience to help others, trolls concern themselves with asking “gotcha” questions or starting arguments with other others for the purpose of attention.  It is important to have an engagement plan of how to deal with them.  Here are some simple guidelines to get you started:
If the post, tweet, or comment is a legitimate complaint:

  • Your response should come within the hour
  • Apologize and show empathy
  • Answer the question or provide a resolution
  • Confirm resolution, satisfaction, and thank the customer
If the subject seems to be a troll’s rant:
  • Your response should come within the hour
  • Ask the poster to define his expectatiions
  • Offer a private engagement channel like phone or email (NEVER argue with troll in public)
  • Fighting with a Toll will only encourage him to continue – sometimes ignoring or deleting the comment is best

Before responding, step back and remember there are objective third parties who see the difference between a legitimate customer complaint and a troll’s rant.  If the post is a legitimate complaint: excellent, you have an opportunity on your hands because all brands encounter problems from time to time – the great ones acknowledge and overcome them.  It is not always what is said about your brand, but how you respond to it.  People follow you on Twitter or join your community to learn from and engage with like minded folks; they do not want to be bullied or read fights.  It is often best practice to not respond to trolls, but sometimes these folks can be transformed in to brand advocates.

As always – I welcome you comments.

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