When online, you are bound to have your fair-share of internet trolls, especially in the field of communication. In other words, there are bullies online, everywhere. We’ve seen this type of internet trolling happen between Donald Trump and Arnold Shwarzenegger, as well as many other celebrities in similar situations.
However, when in a professional environment, it can be difficult to know how to respond to internet trolls in an appropriate and professional manner. Sometimes you may have to decide not to respond at all, which can be just as challenging. With that being said, we decided to offer you some tips on how to respond to internet trolls.
How to Respond to Internet Trolls?
1. When Should you Respond?
When the commenter has an authentic problem – Sometimes the “internet troll” is just a confused and frustrated customer.
When the commenter relays inaccurate information – If the information being shared is wrong and can cause harm to you or your organization, you should make an effort to correct it.
When the negative comment is a question on a blog or article with a large audience – It is always a good idea to respond to internet trolls especially if you have a large audience. You don’t want to appear unhelpful or uncaring to your target audience.
2. When Should you not Respond?
Avoid not responding to negative comments – By not responding to internet trolls, you are still technically responding, or sending a message, and that may show you are not engaged with your audience.
In certain situations, sometimes more complicated, it may be best not to respond. For instance, if the commenter is clearly baiting you: when an individual is commenting solely to draw offense without a credible cause or reason. In these instances, it’s best not to respond.
3. When Formulating your Response
Respond quickly, accurately, and professionally – Responding quickly will ensure your audience that you are paying attention. Responding with accurate information will help build trust with your audience. Responding professionally will build on your credibility.
Don’t be defensive or make public confrontations – Instead, choose to show compassion, concern, commitment and appreciation. This is because emotion is always present and it can further drive away the upset customer and others who see it.
Never be afraid to acknowledge your mistakes – Mistakes happen and it’s best to admit and be apologetic rather than disregardful. Remember to be transparent and also give truthful responses. Acknowledging your mistakes will let your audience know that you’re honest and they can trust you.
4. Follow Up and Follow Through
Some conversations should be private – When an individual brings up a topic about a more personal issue, it is best to respond through a private conversation. In this case, politely reply to the commentor by saying something along the lines of: “We are sorry you experienced this, please feel free to reach us through private message so we can further discuss how we could have made your experience with us a better one. Thanks!” Then, don’t forget to take this comment or review seriously and follow up in your future actions so you can better avoid any more negative comments.
5. Other Major Don’ts
Do not delete any negative comments – This will only anger internet trolls even more and it may cause distrust with your audience if you are not transparent.
Treat perceptions as fact and don’t bother saying that the commenter is false in their opinion – This will cause upset and may show that you are disregarding your audience’s opinions or don’t care about them.
In the end, working in communications is not an easy task when dealing with the disappointed public. But as long as you follow these guidelines, you are sure to be on your way to having a smoother conversation with your online audience.