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How To Deal With Social Media Trolls

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How To Deal With Social Media Trolls

They are the most humorless, disruptive, incorrigible, irredeemable, irrepressibly annoying creatures in existence; they bring darkness to dialogues of light, confusion to discussions of clarity, and incivility to conversations of comity and reason. They are online trolls, and they are the bane of the virtual age.

Much has been written about the psychology of online trolls. The consensus seems to be that they are people whose boredom, vindictiveness, and need for attention are pathological and finds an outlet in cyber space.

Indeed, your first encounter with a troll may leave you startled. The question that occurred to me during my own first experience with one was: what the hell is this guy talking about? I felt neither anger nor sadness, only bafflement and exasperation. And afterwards I thought to myself that such is the response of any rational person to the rot and rantings posted by social media trolls.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the best way to rid your Facebook, Twitter, blog site, or other social media feed of trolls is to ignore them. “Don’t feed the trolls” is the advice most commonly given. There is some truth to this. Confrontation is one of the most prominent forces driving online trolls. They want you to respond to their aggressiveness with rudeness of your own. They want you to return fire, so that they can increase the load and precision of their invective. By ignoring them you deprive them of the opportunity to go on hitting you. You leave them without the attention they seek, and without this they will eventually go away.

Another tactic to employ against social media trolls may be called the J.K. Rowling maneuver. If you have the wit and stamina, you may be able to take down your troll by using edgy humor and sharp-edged sarcasm. One of J.K Rowling’s Twitter exchanges last summer provides an excellent example of how to deliver a cutting rather than a blunt response to your abuser.

The two paths described above are perfectly fine ways of dealing with trolls on your personal social media accounts. However, if you run a small business or are tasked with maintaining the credibility and reputation of a corporate brand, then you will need to take trolling more seriously.

Filling the CiF section and Facebook pages of specific companies with negative and abusive comments has become the specialty of many trolls. As a man of business, you do not have the luxury of simply ignoring social media trolls. It is becoming the norm for individuals to use customer reviews and comments as a basis for deciding whether to purchase a product or service. If your site is being trolled, it can do serious damage to your bottom line.

There are a number of measures you can take to effectively counter trolls who are trying to ruin your business.

You should try to unmask the troll who has targeted you. Trolls thrive on anonymity. They are, however, not that skilled in guarding it. It is usually quite easy to track your troll down online. You can usually trace him to a blog site or some other social media account and get an idea of who you’re dealing with. You can then use this information to expose the agenda of your troll. If you are able to make him look trivial, small-minded and petty, people will pay little attention to what he has to say.

You should also counter fiction with fact. The spreading of lies, unfounded rumors, and inaccurate data is best dealt with by posting hard, proven facts. If there is no presentation of the truth, then people will believe a lie. You should always discern and disclaim every misleading statement made by the person who is trolling your company’s site.

Finally, you should avoid joining the trolls. If you are defending your brand against trolls, you do not have the option of exercising the J.K. Rowling maneuver. You have to appear as calm and objective as possible. The last thing you want is to get into a pissing contest with an online troll. You will have given him exactly what he wants—which is to ruin the public’s perception of your brand.

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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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