Internet trolls. They have been part of social media since its advent, and they can range from people who make negative comments (though not all less-than-pleased comments are indicative of “trolling!”) to those who will write an entire thesis on why your brand has personally offended them. Trolls have the capability to wreak havoc on the comment sections of your posts, and as fresh produce marketers, we know all too well that there are several types of trolls we may find lurking within our own pages.
In honor of the holiday season, we’re tipping our hat to everyone’s favorite furry green troll (the Grinch!) and listing of some of the most notable troll behaviors and some tricks to handle them. One disclaimer, in the spirit of one of our favorite writers: when it comes to trolls, now please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason…but perhaps their shoes are tied just a little too tight. ;)
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Rest assured, this troll has read it all and is ready to fire away. Like most industries, fresh produce experiences recalls and other external events that become news-worthy. Unfortunately for us, “trending-news trolls” thrive on using their outrage at such news stories (often #fakenews, by the way) to attack brands based on surface-level knowledge, typically through what they have heard or read “somewhere.” While chances are that this troll hasn’t actually researched the topic of such great concern, education is the best way to handle this one. Be sure to provide information on what is going on with the situation—and include evidence when possible. For example, in one recent instance, customers were alarmed by fabricated images on social media that claimed to depict growers working in fields while fiery California skies were clearly visible in the distance. Several trolls took to Instagram and Facebook to voice how “horrible” certain brands were for forcing their workers to work in such conditions. These brands made the smart choice to educate their audiences by swiftly and directly addressing the matter through all social platforms, stating that they were not located near the dangerous wildfires and providing images to show the clear skies above their fields.
Brand Fan Troll
This is a troll that “lives and dies” by your brand. They are the equivalent of fair-weather fans who show up loud and proud when your brand is consistently performing well, but at the smallest change, they are ready to help naysayers take you down a notch or two. This troll may be an avid fan of your citrus products, for example, yet when they see a post about avocados they may take it upon themselves to proclaim to the world exactly how much they hate avocados. Don’t feed this troll! The “hide” button will become your best friend whenever this troll is involved. Note: it’s best to hide this type of comment immediately to avoid more trolls hopping onto the bandwagon to spread additional negativity.
Some trolls just want to see the world burn. They have no intention of ever saying anything positive—ever. You could post an image of your best produce elegantly plated for a delicious dinner…and they would find something negative to say about it. These comments are not constructive and are often offensive. The angry troll will not hesitate to start arguments in your comments section or to resort to using disrespectful or abusive language and insults, even when replying (often unprovoked) to positive commenters.
When it comes to this troll, here’s your best bet: delete, delete, delete! An angry troll that targets a brand will never be pleased by the resulting efforts (and will likely make their presence known on multiple social posts and platforms). You can try to respond to them, but don’t be surprised when they take that attempt as an opportunity to thoroughly drag you and your brand through the mud. If it gets out of hand, reporting and banning the individual on behalf of the brand is the last resort.
Don’t be surprised to see an attention troll lingering in your comments constantly…everywhere you look. These trolls don’t necessarily cause any harm to your brand, but they also may “just want to say hello” 20+ times a day. It’s best to acknowledge these individuals in small ways, given that they can quickly turn into the above Brand Fan Troll if they feel ignored. Simply liking their comments—or sending a thumbs-up in response to their message—will satisfy them (until the next time they decide to speak up, of course!).
Overall, when it comes to internet trolls, we advise using your best judgement and approaching each troll on a case-by-case basis: address when appropriate and hide otherwise. Though some trolls may be more playful and harmless, others can do severe damage to a brand reputation (much like our productively destructive friend, the Grinch!). Just like all the Whos in Whoville used their collective cheerful voices to sing over the Grinch, brands can use smart communication strategies to overcome trolls (and perhaps even grow their little hearts 3 sizes).
Got any other handy tips for dealing with troublesome trolls? Leave us a comment below or tweet to us at @TheCoreBlog.