If you’ve ever ventured into the comment section of a post on Facebook or Instagram, or the reply threads on Twitter, you’ve seen first-hand just how uninformed, hateful, and just plain mean some people can be online.
For brands, the trolls are more than just an annoyance. They can be seriously detrimental to a brand’s reputation and discourage other followers from engaging with a brand’s page. So, what should a brand do if they get some of the flies buzzing around their posts?
What Not to Do with Trolls
More often than not, it’s best to ignore the negative comments on your posts. While it might seem like it’s totally worth the fleeting sensation of glory for having defended your brand in the comments of your post, the win is short-lived. The ne’er-do-well you’ve engaged with is bound to come back with another retort and on and on the conversation goes in an endless cycle of tit-for-tat.
This is the last thing you want. Why? More comments on a post means more engagement, which social media algorithms love. Increased engagement means the algorithm will feature the post more in the newsfeeds of your audience, exposing them to the vitriol taking place on the post. It’s salt on a digital wound, which should be avoided at all costs.
If a post is critically but otherwise benign, ignore it if at all possible.
How to Handle Trolls on Social Media
If you do engage with bad actors online, strike a conciliatory tone, and encourage them to message you privately or send an email so that you and your team can address their concerns. Here’s a shocker – while they’re perfectly willing to leave a nasty comment, they’re usually unlikely to actually reach out. Dealing with an actual human being is far too intimidating for these keyboard warriors to pursue, so the ordeal tends to end there. Your audience will see you addressing a knucklehead in a kind, understanding, and professional manner, and the commenter usually heads off to mess with someone else’s page in an effort to spread their own self-loathing to others.
When to Delete Comments and Block Users
There’s a fine line between criticism and libel. Receiving criticism on social media should be treated as an opportunity for your brand to display empathy and professionalism. However, your organization is under no obligation to tolerate outright lies and abuse. If a comment is blatantly false or hateful, your organization should delete the comment and block the user who left it.
Why? Because in a world where we all decry the spread of false information, brands have a responsibility to not allow its spread. If a comment lies about the integrity of your nonprofit or the quality or sourcing of your product, your brand is not only correct to remove the comment, but I’d argue obligated to do so.
Not enough brands protect themselves from inaccurate, uninformed, and hateful comments online. They have every right to protect themselves from false statements.
It’d be great if everyone online was kind, respectful, and kept their unkind comments to themselves. That day is unlikely to ever arrive. In the meantime, treat critical posts with professionalism, and banish the outright inaccurate and hateful posts from the web.