As the online reputation of your business continues to grow in importance by leaps and bounds, so does the necessity of not letting a forum troll ruin it all. We’re not talking about the troll of your childhood fairy tales but rather the malcontent who sits at his keyboard and gleefully attacks one and all through the guise of anonymity.
What’s a troll’s deal anyway?
The intent is to provoke readers into some sort of emotional response that will likely embarrass them. What’s the troll’s end game? Far be it from us to psychoanalyze the sort of person who indulges in this behavior but a good guess might be as simple as – chaos! Where does trolling end and cyberbullying begin? The dividing line isn’t always simple to locate, but the results can be horrific. More than one suicide has been credited to a good course of online abuse.
Another not so readily apparent side effect of trolling is the economic toll it can take on a business that has been targeted by a troll for destruction or at least maximum mayhem. Before we go further, one of the greatest things about the Internet is that a customer who has received a raw deal by a company can take to a forum and tell the world about it. A sort of cautionary warning before others decide to buy a product or service from the same vendor. This transparency is probably one of the most important consumer protection developments of all time, and we’re not joking.
But what if a troll – err, person – were to post an inflammatory diatribe against a company and it, GASP, turned out not to be true? Herein lies the rub. Freedom isn’t always pretty and sometimes an innocent company takes an undeserved hit to its reputation. Since it’s not yet legal to have Internet trolls put to death upon suspicion, businesses are going to have to come up with a better solution.
Here are a few ideas Jason Hartman suggests:
1. Ignore the troll: How much fun is it to continue zinging someone who absolutely, flat-out refuses to respond? Answer – not very. You first and often most effective strategem might be to simply ignore the idiot.
2. Call the authorities: We’re not talking about the local SWAT team. A forum will have an administrator or owner who should be very interested in ridding his website of troll behavior.
3. Psychological warfare: This one might be fun to the right twisted personality. Compliment the troll. Extoll his virtues. Laud his intelligence and insight. Put another way – kill ‘em with kindness.
Trolls are a fact of online life, but don’t let them be the ruination of yours. (Image: Flickr | Anna Bialkowska)
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