With many people stuck at home and many of those unable to
work there is a high risk of boredom setting in, unfortunately some individuals
find the best way to meet their emotional needs it to take to “cyber trolling”
people and companies, but can trolling be a benefit to the people that it is
aiming to upset?
Over a very short time period small business owner Jodie had
her business and personal social media targeted by “trolling”, this is the
first time she had experienced “trolls” in this kind of way and she faced the challenge
of not taking it personally. Jodie is
the founder of Jenni Bean Consultancy CIC which has grown rapidly, providing information
and support as well as nappy and sling hire for families of South Buckinghamshire.
Rather than reacting or internalising the cyberattacks she
took time to think about what the trolls were trying to achieve as well as what
her own goals and aims are and how she could benefit from them. This is what
A “troll” is described
as someone who uses internet platforms to post inflammatory content/ messages
with the aim to provoke an emotional response, for their own amusement or gain.
As a small business owner, Jodie’s aim is to promote what her company does and
to reach a wide demographic of people, in her case families.
As many businesses do, Jodie took to looking at how other
companies and individuals decide to tackle “trolling”, what was really
interesting is that other business, big and small, were also seeing in increase
of this kind of negative attacks during this time of lock down. The high
emotions during this unprecedented time coupled with individuals being isolated
and so unable to meet their basic human need for emotional connection, is a
recipe for this kind of behaviour to flourish.
The other interesting thing that she discovered was that
many small businesses saw it as a badge of honour! The thinking behind this is
that, in their very nature “trolls” are trying to get as much emotional feedback
as possible, companies that are unsuccessful will have less reach and so their
comments will have a very insignificant affect, companies that are current have
a much bigger audience and thus will allow them to piggy back off your success.
The other angle to look at this is if the “troll” is targeting your company it
could equally be that they are jealous of the accomplishment’s that have been
made by that company, this is where you may encounter posts being “reported” or
removed when they have not been in breach of “rules”, again this is something to
be proud of, your company is so accomplished that someone has taken a great deal of effort
to attempt to hinder you.
So how can it benefit business? Social media algorithms are
written so that posts, images and video that have higher activity, such as comment,
reactions and shares, appear on timelines more than ones with low interaction. This
in turn allows us all to appreciate more interesting content, but when we look
at this from a trolling point, these antagonistic comments will boost how many
people you are able to reach, especially as they are more likely to encourage a
response. The other thing to keep in mind is, when you are using social media,
do you read all the comments before you look at the post itself? Not many
people do and so the post will still have a positive reach, with or without those
So, should we seek to remove the comments and messages? This
really comes down to where you are in your own emotional needs. If you are not
in the place to respond without emotion and they are causing you upset then yes
remove them and block them if that is possible. However, when it comes to replying
it also gives an opportunity for a business to demonstrate how amazing they are
with their customer care and attention. It is always an option to remove these
comments and some may argue that the best thing to do is not to engage at all,
which may be true if you reply from your own emotional side. It is so important
to take emotion out of a response and reply with your “this is an opportunity
to shine” hat on, as the troll is trying to meet their own emotional need for
connection, replying with your emotions will not have the desired outcome. Never
reply with anger! As the band Oasis say “don’t look back in anger”.
If you are facing an increase of “troll” activity, first step
back, take time to take your own emotions into account, they are seeing you as someone
who can meet their emotional needs or who can benefit their own outcomes, it is
not really about you. Next you need to decide if you can approach this without
any emotion, if not do not reply, remove the comment, message. If you are ready
to reply then write out what your aims are and what you would like to achieve from
the exchange, do you want to have a conversation that will increase your posts
reach? Do you want to help this person meet their needs? Do you want to show off how amazing you customers
care is? Do you want to promote more services and products that you have available?
Take your time to write your response and if you can get others to look at it
from different points of view too.
Finally wear your “I’ve been trolled” badge with pride! Congratulations
you’re officially a success!