The Internet’s ability to connect us with strangers around the world is a double-edged sword. For marketing purposes, it is incredibly powerful but something happens to some people when they get online. Some people lose all inhibition and behave like obnoxious trolls on holidays.
Others do that every time they get online. So as a marketer presenting the best of your brand and cheerfully engaging with potential customers, what do you do when a troll crashes your party? How can you minimize the impact of a negative review on your Facebook page? Can you rein in on a troll posting utterly random stuff in the comments of your blog?
Sadly, all of these scenarios are something any brand with an internet presence will have to deal with sooner or later. You might think your specialty shop in a small town would escape the notice of trolls, but the odds are that sooner or later, one will find you. You do not have to be a quiet victim. Here are some ways to keep your social media and blog pleasant, positive places.
An internet troll has little in common with the adorable animated creatures of the popular children’s film. The trolls who might cause problems on your social media are more than cranks. A Canadian study published in 2014 showed that internet trolls enjoy making others unhappy. They delight in your distress. So there is no point in engaging with them. It really is best not to feed the trolls.
If someone posts a comment that is purely offensive, irrelevant, or blatantly untrue, and that person is not someone who regularly engages in a healthy, positive way, just delete the comment. Don’t debate with them. It is fine to post a comment saying that trolling comments will be deleted because your brand does not tolerate hatred or bigotry or rudeness. You can frame your comment to make it clear you are acting as a host protecting the other guests from someone unable to behave in a civil manner.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Some people can take an off night at a restaurant in stride, while others feel compelled to announce their displeasure to the world. And of course, some people will do almost anything in the hopes of some sort of compensation. If someone simply leaves a one-star rating but says nothing, there is little you can do bar continuing to provide the best goods and services you can and encouraging satisfied customers to leave their own reviews. Over time, the odd low review will be lost in the volume of positive reviews.
Someone leaving angry complaints is another story. First, remain calm. Respond quickly, inviting them to contact you with more details. Genuinely investigate to see what really happened. Perhaps something did go wrong with your product or service. That is an opportunity for you to show all of your followers that your commitment to providing excellence. That will build trust with your other followers. If their complaint turns out to be nonsense, you can deliver a calm, short reply that your investigations found nothing amiss and you are sorry they are unhappy. That is best 99% of the time. Some businesses have found 15 minutes of fame in engaging with irrationally disgruntled customers, but that’s a risky reaction.
One thing you should never tolerate is personal attacks on your staff. Whether it is a criticism of something irrelevant such as their appearance or inappropriate, suggestive comments, it needs to be shut down. Don’t put the burden of laughing it off on your staff. Aside from the ethics involved, your customer base will be more impressed to see you defending your staff. Certainly if someone has a serious complaint, that must be dealt with correctly. If someone is posting comments about a staff member – or about you, the manager or owner – that refer to the person’s appearance, ethnicity, intelligence, or other personal characteristic in a way that makes the person uncomfortable, those comments need to be deleted.
Your internet space really is yours to police. If you wouldn’t tolerate something in your premises, why would you tolerate it in your internet space?
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