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5 ways to handle comment trolls on social media

John Brandon | June 16, 2015
Social media has become a new way to find new customers, provide support, market products, share news and even develop customer relationships. Because of the free-form nature of services like Twitter and Facebook, large companies can enjoy the benefits of frequent personal interaction. Dell can "like" a comment from a happy laptop owner on Facebook, Bristol-Myers can share corporate news directly with their 67,000 followers on Twitter.

3. Always ignore trolls until they move on 

All of the experts agreed that a real "comment troll" is someone who doesn't have a legitimate complaint. This is the typical angry Internet user who just wants to create mayhem and destruction. Rob Enderle, the founder of Enderle Group and an expert on consumer technology, says it's always best to ignore trolls. Eventually the troll gets bored and moves on to another target. By engaging, you're creating a ticking time-bomb. 

"Generally it's best to ignore a troll and identify them to the admin staff of the site who can better deal with them," says Enderle. "As a fall back, never challenge them. Be cordial, friendly and don't get angry. If you don't engage, they'll typically go looking for someone else." 

Of course, there are examples of large companies taking on a negative commenter in public. Zonozi mentioned one recent example where Charmin posted a response to comedian Rob Delaney about his daughter offering a bear a roll of toilet paper. This sort of playful banter, says Zonozi, can open the door to new customers and reach a wider audience. 

4. Delete troll comments on sponsored posts

This is a more controversial approach, especially in the age of Internet freedom and usage rights. Everyone has a voice and anyone can comment. However, there's a different standard when it comes to "promoted content" and paid ads. When a large company like Best Buy pays for an ad to run on Facebook, and then trolls start leaving negative comments, it's a valid strategy to delete these comments as part of the paid ad, says Patrick Hope, the social media expert at Xcitex, a video capture and analysis company. 

"You should work actively to remove [negative comments]," says Hope. "You're spending a substantial amount to push your content and deliver an on-point message. You're already pushing your content on people who didn't ask for it and many people who would never be customers will troll the comments as ad-revenge. Removing these will never hurt your core customer base. Allowing these to stay will hurt the campaign." 

5. Ignore complaints that cannot be fixed most of the time

One final word of advice about comment trolls: Remember that some problems cannot be fixed. There are different levels of negative comments, from legitimate complaints to cruel attacks meant only to harm. As social media expert Jen Jamar explained, some trolls are just looking to create destruction, and the core issue is that the person is angry and abusive. No company can address that problem. In other cases, a troll has an issue with the product you sell and that won't ever change. A company that makes a bacon product will never be able to make a comment troll who is against all meat products happy. 


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