#SproutChat Recap: Dealing With Internet Trolls

One beautiful thing about social media is that it allows customers to instantly interact with their favorite brands. Unfortunately, that easy-access also means that those brands are open to becoming the target of trolls: angry users hurling inflammatory language or even threats across social.

All savvy social media marketers should understand how to distinguish feedback from trolling, so in this week’s #SproutChat we’ve covered best practices for handling internet trolls and how a plan of action is vital for any brand.

Don’t Feed the Trolls, but Do Ask Questions

It’s critical not to stoop to their level. Responding angrily to your audience or being heavy on the snark is just adding fuel to the fire. It may not be worth your time and effort to go toe to toe with an angry customer. Instead take the time to figure out the context of their complaint in order to help them.

A1: The first DO would be DON'T answer them.. #SproutChat

— Apple Box Studios (@AppleBoxStudios) August 9, 2017

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A1: Do: Respond…and be nice. Don't: Ignore…the person will only become angrier. #sproutchat

— Netvantage Marketing (@netvantage) August 9, 2017

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A1: Don't add fuel to the fire. Do push them to move the conversation to a private forum. #SproutChat

— Mindvolt (@mindvolt) August 9, 2017

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A1: DO have a plan in place so when it happens you don't panic! #sproutchat

— Charlotte S. Price (@_CharlotteSP_) August 9, 2017

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A1: You need to distinguish: troll versus actual problem. Then follow a process. #SproutChat

— Kevin Juliano (@KevinJJuliano) August 9, 2017

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A1: Gauge the convo before responding…If they seem like a REAL consumer/client w/ REAL concerns, respond #SproutChat

— Max Bailey (@maxthemarketer) August 9, 2017

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1: Don’t feed them. And ignore at your own risk. Use mute and block at will. #SproutChat

— Mehul 🙂 (@mehulgohil) August 9, 2017

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Keep Track of Negative Comments

By keeping track of negative comments you’re more easily able to note patterns. This means that if the same users are providing negative feedback, you’ll have insight into their conversation history to inform your next moves.

Monitoring for mentions of your brand is also vital for staying on top of any social crisis.

A2: Screenshot folders are a great tool! Although I'd try to resolve and move on ASAP, maybe check in later. #SproutChat

— Mindvolt (@mindvolt) August 9, 2017

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A2 Make sure you have an official process/policy in place. Keep track via docs and spreadsheets. Screenshot if necessary. #SproutChat

— Cristy (@lacristysalinas) August 9, 2017

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A2: We have a spreadsheet and sometimes have screenshots as well. #sproutchat

— Netvantage Marketing (@netvantage) August 9, 2017

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A2: Use a platform where you can organize tweets by hashtag or user. #SproutChat https://t.co/wxUH56ncAl

— Robert Warren (@robofthunder) August 9, 2017

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A2) Tag and code them. Work on legitimate issues for root cause fixes and track trends.#sproutchat

— Steve Cassady (@SteveCassady) August 9, 2017

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A2: Monitor mentions of your brand by keeping track of replies and by searching your brand name. You won't always be tagged! #SproutChat

— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) August 9, 2017

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A2: We tag them all then do an audit at the end of every month to determine what action should be taken to help us improve. #SproutChat

— Jeff Higgins (@ItsJeffHiggins) August 9, 2017

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Loop Others In

Occasionally you’ll need to escalate issues to other team members, as you won’t always know the answer. Situations can quickly turn into crises, so be sure to loop in appropriate team members in order to keep issues from escalating.

A3 Escalations happen if it's a real issue. Maybe the site was down and customer had a bad experience and blasting social.
(1/2) #SproutChat

— Cristy (@lacristysalinas) August 9, 2017

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A3: If the issue is something I can't fix I pass it on. If it's something against my actions (as SM manager) I pass it on #sproutchat

— Charlotte S. Price (@_CharlotteSP_) August 9, 2017

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A3: When a solution is outside of your sphere of ability. #sproutchat

— ICF Olson (@ICFOlson) August 9, 2017

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A3: We do 3 strikes then bump.
Offer apology.
Get information on issue.
Offer resolution.
If these won't solve it, bump.#SproutChat

— Jeff Higgins (@ItsJeffHiggins) August 9, 2017

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A3 When I'm not equipped with the right answer or necessary info, I escalate it to someone who can. #CustServ #SproutChat

— Katie Burton (@KatieBurton_) August 9, 2017

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Inflammatory Language Not Welcome

Not every social network allows for comments to be deleted, but when possible take the precaution to do so. It’s important to act if there are posts containing personal information or inflammatory, threatening language.

Depending on if they're offensive or not, sometimes it's important to leave them as it's authentic #sproutchat

— Mollie Clarke (@mollieblog) August 9, 2017

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A4: I will delete comments in our FB group if they're against our guidelines (profanity, name-calling, etc.) #sproutchat

— Jessie (@JessieAtAC) August 9, 2017

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A4: Typically, a negative comment would only be deleted if it was offensive in some way. #SproutChat

— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) August 9, 2017

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A4: Usually not, as long as they don’t violate policy and aren’t offensive. Need to be authentic and own mistakes. #SproutChat

— Kevin Juliano (@KevinJJuliano) August 9, 2017

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A4: Negative? no. Inflammatory, yes. Honest critique should always be allowed! #SproutChat

— Charlotte S. Price (@_CharlotteSP_) August 9, 2017

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A4: Most of the time if not a legitimate issue. Can't believe how people want to add political comments to vacation pages! #sproutchat

— Brad Lovett (@Brad_Lovett) August 9, 2017

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Have an Action Plan in Place

When it comes to responding to trolls or negative feedback, just make sure that all team members are on the same page. This is particularly important if you have a larger social team. Consistency will help prevent growing social crises and ensure that everyone knows protocol and works toward one goal.

Everyone business should have a company procedure, to protect and guide its staff #sproutchat

— Mollie Clarke (@mollieblog) August 9, 2017

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A5: ABSOLUTELY! We use the @usairforce Web Posting Response Assessment as our guide. #SproutChat https://t.co/1WLHrvRNeb pic.twitter.com/U0Hchd7Vbh

— Kevin Juliano (@KevinJJuliano) August 9, 2017

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A5 Absolutely! A consistent plan of attack is essential. Have a strike policy with messaging to explain moderation actions. #sproutchat [AR]

— ModSquad (@modsquad) August 9, 2017

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A5: the plan should layout different courses of action for different levels of trolls #SproutChat

— Apple Box Studios (@AppleBoxStudios) August 9, 2017

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A5: Yes, for business and personal accounts. Leaders in big orgs can be targeted by trolls, too – prep them! #SproutChat

— Meg Hogan (@meghogan0) August 9, 2017

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A5: If you have multiple social media managers, yes. Including a guideline of steps to take would be so helpful for that. #SproutChat

— Mindvolt (@mindvolt) August 9, 2017

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Be sure to join #SproutChat next Wednesday, Aug. 16, with our special guest, Sprout All Star Jasmin Bollman of Rebel.com, to chat about Social ROI. Until then, check out our Facebook community to connect with folks in the industry.

This post #SproutChat Recap: Dealing With Internet Trolls originally appeared on Sprout Social.