Social media connects billions of people worldwide. For businesses, this is often good news that means more customers, potential business relationships, and even exposure to a vast employee talent pool. Unfortunately, being connected to billions of people can also spell trouble and one of the biggest dangers businesses face on social media is trolling. A troll is somebody who deliberately tries to provoke or upset others by posting inflammatory, offensive, or controversial comments or messages.

Trolls are bad news for any business, from vegan bakeries to assisted living facilities. They can damage relationships with customers, sully reputations, and even lead to legal trouble. So, what can you do if you find yourself the target of a troll on your business’s social media account?

Know Who Warrants a Response

There’s no need to reply to every troll. In fact,  that can often make the situation worse. But, there are situations where the opposite is also true. 

How do you differentiate? 

First, consider the account’s social media influence. Is the troll someone with a lot of followers? If so, they have the potential to do more damage and reach more people with their trolling and it’s worth responding. 

Next, consider the tone of the troll. Is the troll being profane or outright offensive? If so, they’re trying to bait you into an argument or get a rise out of you. In this case, it’s best not to engage.

Also, consider the context of the troll. Is the troll attacking one of your employees? If so, you may want to defend your employee. Is the troll making false statements about your product? If so, you want to clear up any misconceptions.

Know What Not to Do

There are a few things you should avoid doing when responding to trolls on your business’s social media account. 

First, don’t feed the troll. This means don’t engage in a back-and-forth argument. This will only make the situation worse and give the troll more attention. 

Also, don’t delete the troll’s comments. This can make it look like the business is hiding something or that you can’t handle criticism. It’s best to leave the comment up and respond to it.

Also, don’t try to reason with a troll. This is a fruitless endeavor as trolls are not reasonable people. They’re looking to cause trouble and they’re not going to be swayed.

Know How to Respond

When responding to a troll on your business’s social media account, there are two things you should keep in mind. 

First, keep your cool. This can be difficult, but it’s important to not let the troll get under your skin. Condescending or rude comments will only make the situation worse and reflect poorly on your business. Remember, they’re looking to provoke a reaction and if you get angry or upset, they’ve won. 

Then, be factual. If the troll is making false statements, and asking questions, answer them clearly and concisely. If you have proof, such as a link to a blog post or customer testimonial, include that in your response. 

Trolls can be a major problem for businesses on social media. But, by knowing who warrants a response, what not to do, and how to respond, you can minimize the damage they can cause.