Fight­ing the trolls

The num­ber of peo­ple who feel bad re­views have the power to make or break their busi­ness has risen from 17% (2014) to 21%.* How­ever, most are strug­gling to find the right so­lu­tion. Along with the ben­e­fits it pro­vides, the in­ter­net also has a dark side. To

The Smart Manager - - Contents - * https://www.ig­niyte.com/en/blog/2016/10/ig­niyte-re­search-trolls-havedam­aged-half-of-bri­tish-busi­nesses-rep­u­ta­tions/

Trolls are a re­al­ity of the in­ter­net era; hence or­ga­ni­za­tions need to re­think their strate­gies to pro­tect their brand rep­u­ta­tion, says Za­far Rais, Mind­shift In­ter­ac­tive.

The in­ter­net is full of peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties who are dis­sat­is­fied with a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice/ prod­uct and want to share their opin­ions and ex­press their views. Un­like these an­gry users, who share their neg­a­tive, but sin­cerely held be­liefs, trolls may not be­lieve a word of what they write. They choose words that have the high­est like­li­hood of up­set­ting and of­fend­ing, and use them as a pow­er­ful weapon to gain at­ten­tion. These mes­sages—per­sonal at­tacks and triv­ial jokes—of­ten dis­tract and take fo­cus away from rel­e­vant is­sues. In a sce­nario where brands are in the lime­light for be­ing trolled on so­cial me­dia, it is im­por­tant that your brand is aware of such dan­gers and knows how to keep them at bay. Brands such as Ama­zon, Flip­kart, Uber, and Ola have stirred up a mas­sive storm by trolling each other too.

Celebrity trolling has also re­cently gained a lot of at­ten­tion. We of­ten see pop­u­lar per­son­al­i­ties such as Don­ald Trump, Anushka Sharma, Shilpa Shetty, and Alia Bhatt among oth­ers be­ing trolled. On­line trolling has be­come a mat­ter of con­cern be­cause of the long-term em­bar­rass­ment it causes.

Ul­ti­mately, the more at­ten­tion trolls give your brand on so­cial me­dia, the harder it may be to get rid of them. While this is a prob­lem in it­self, it may also in­flu­ence how oth­ers feel about your brand. Trolls usu­ally have a high opin­ion level, driv­ing a fair share of fol­low­ers to en­gage with them. This could also in­flu­ence your po­ten­tial cus­tomers in a neg­a­tive man­ner. In such a sce­nario, block­ing a par­tic­u­lar ac­count or ig­nor­ing a com­ment is prob­a­bly not the best de­ci­sion. No mat­ter what the na­ture of com­ment is, you have to hold your ground.

A re­cent ex­am­ple would be of a pop­u­lar In­dian pan masala brand. Their ad cam­paign gen­er­ated a wave of neg­a­tive com­ments on so­cial me­dia be­cause au­di­ences were un­able to see the fit be­tween the brand and the am­bas­sador. As ne­ti­zens trolled the ad and posted graph­i­cally mod­i­fied spoofs of the orig­i­nal cre­atives on­line, the brand is­sued a state­ment through the press to avoid it go­ing viral fur­ther and to sup­port its iden­tity.

A re­spect­ful and ac­cept­able man­ner of han­dling a sit­u­a­tion al­ways helps. Hence, it is im­por­tant that as a brand, you learn the art of manag­ing trolls. Here are a few best prac­tices ad­hered to by suc­cess­ful brands for manag­ing trolls: plan ahead: In some cases, hav­ing said some­thing is as harm­ful as hav­ing said noth­ing. Han­dling trolls the wrong way can be a ‘PR cri­sis’ for you and your busi­ness; hence it is nec­es­sary to think through your ap­proach in ad­vance. In short, the time to think about how to han­dle trolls is not when you have just been trolled. Your lis­ten­ing strat­egy should be de­signed in a proac­tive man­ner for emer­gen­cies. Fac­tor in the var­i­ous cases of troll at­tacks and de­sign a strat­egy to be well pre­pared for them in ad­vance.

The time to think about how to han­dle trolls is not when you have just been trolled. Your lis­ten­ing strat­egy should be de­signed in a proac­tive man­ner for emer­gen­cies.

be wise with re­sponse time: A troll is usu­ally blow­ing off steam and ex­pect­ing an ag­i­tated con­ver­sa­tion. The best time for your re­sponse is when the troll has com­pletely vent out his or her ire. How­ever, it should not be

unat­tended for too long. Re­mem­ber that an unat­tended con­ver­sa­tion can spread like wild fire. An hon­est en­quiry about the sit­u­a­tion will be enough to start the process of pos­i­tive en­gage­ment and open up an op­por­tu­nity to turn a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence into a pos­i­tive one.

do not give in: Trolls want you to get ir­ri­tated, up­set, and un­com­fort­able. No mat­ter how hard it is, en­sure you main­tain your calm and fol­low an ap­proach that shows you are stick­ing to your ground. Keep it hu­mane and ac­cept­able for oth­ers view­ing the di­a­log and form­ing opin­ions.

make use of tools: There are var­i­ous tools and plug-ins to bat­tle trolls. They mon­i­tor and re­move in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments when they are re­peated fre­quently. There are also a range of ap­pli­ca­tions that al­low you to gain insights on the trolls and un­der­stand if there is a trend of re­peat trolling by the per­son. A mea­sure of the trolls’clout, fre­quency of trolling, and back­ground en­ables you to take an in­formed ap­proach prior to your re­sponse.

dou­ble check facts: We all love to post in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion on our brand page, but some­times, it is pos­si­ble that our facts are not ac­cu­rate. The first step to avoid trolling is that you do not com­pro­mise on your re­search. The on­line world can be a piti­less place and you can­not have your brand in the news for the wrong rea­sons. Be­fore post­ing any in­for­ma­tion, make sure you ver­ify its sources and dou­ble check your facts. ad­mit when you are wrong: If a pop­u­lar troll points out a mis­take you have made, then you should look into it, make amend­ments, and grace­fully ac­cept you were wrong. Be­ing de­fen­sive will only make the is­sue big­ger while be­ing hon­est will al­low every­one to move ahead, and prob­a­bly gain you a few new fans.

stay true: No mat­ter what the na­ture of com­plaint is, you need to be true to your brand. This means, ev­ery neg­a­tive feed­back must be faced with the same plan of ac­tion. You have to be first em­pa­thetic and then take things for­ward. Ir­re­spec­tive of the cause or sit­u­a­tion, you need to dis­play a sense of hope so that cus­tomers can feel good. Do not be eva­sive as it might hurt your brand.

The way your brand re­sponds to the feed­back it re­ceives says a lot about you. In fact, the re­sponses are un­der con­stant anal­y­sis by cus­tomers who are look­ing to size up your brand. So­cial me­dia trolls can make things dif­fi­cult for the sur­vival of a busi­ness as han­dling ag­gres­sive and neg­a­tive feed­back can be quite tricky. Stay aware and work to­wards win­ning hearts—of both trolls and au­di­ences who are watch­ing your ev­ery re­sponse.

How­ever, there is a thin line be­tween healthy chat and below-the-belt slug­ging. When it comes to a brand, rep­u­ta­tion, prin­ci­ples, and sen­si­tiv­ity mat­ter more than any­thing, es­pe­cially on a public plat­form. Make sure you de­velop a vir­tual re­la­tion­ship with your au­di­ence on so­cial me­dia.

So­cial me­dia is a mar­ket­ing chan­nel you can­not and should not ig­nore. It opens up a world of prospects for your busi­ness, and if you are ques­tion­ing how ef­fec­tive it is or are in­tim­i­dated by what could tran­spire out of it, you are living in the past and tak­ing your busi­ness down with you too. Learn the art of han­dling so­cial me­dia and its nu­ances, thus en­abling your brand to em­brace the dig­i­tal world. ■

The first step to avoid trolling is that you do not com­pro­mise on your re­search. The on­line world can be a piti­less place and you can­not have your brand in the news for the wrong rea­sons.

ZA­FAR RAIS IS CEO OF MIND­SHIFT IN­TER­AC­TIVE.

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