Trolls are no longer creatures restricted to the realms of the supernatural. They’re real and maybe just as vile as their fairytale counterparts.

There has been a lot of coverage in the media this past week on internet trolls. 

So, what is a troll and what damage can their aggressive and inciting behaviour cause for brands that are online and vulnerable?

According to Wikipedia, a troll is, internet slang for…

The evolution of the troll

“…someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted.”

While the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling describing intentionally provocative actions and harassment outside of an online context. For example, mass media has used troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”

So beware if your business is crossing the bridge over to social media, as just like those infamous three billy goats gruff, you too could be confronted with a perilous troll lurking below.

Here are some tips to dealing with potential trolls. However, as with any crisis or issue, it is best to be prepared with a comprehensive issues management plan in place.

 

Make sure you’re dealing with a troll. Sometimes, what appears to be a troll may just be a very stressed out person. Avoid getting heated yourself and try to ask kind questions or make kind suggestions before assuming the worst.

Ignore the posts. A troll’s goal is to make users angry, and by responding to their posts, you are “feeding the troll”. The sooner you extinguish the trolling, the better.

Compliment the troll. Trolls will be thrown off balance if you give them a simple compliment, and may even stop trolling, who knows?

Ask the troll to stop posting on your page. Only do this once.

Stop responding to them. Keep your sense of humour and don’t get angry. Treat the matter as what it is – someone testing your boundaries and waiting for you to bite.

Control comments. If it is a company blog, security settings should be enabled so every comment needs to be approved before it’s published.

If all else fails, depending on the platform where the ‘trolling’ is occurring, ask your site administrator or technical provider to take action.

-Gill Asbury