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Best Practices for Dealing with Online Trolls for Businesses

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Cyber Security

Trolls lurk online, wreaking havoc and potentially tarnishing your brand and reputation.


What is a troll?

Trolls are the bullies of the internet. They hide behind their screens and spew negativity about a business anywhere, and in any way, that they can. They often lurk wherever people go to interact, comment, or share with others, such as:

  • Social media platforms
  • Internet chat rooms
  • Email groups
  • Discussion Forums
  • Blogs

Are you dealing with a troll or an upset customer? It can often be hard to differentiate between a genuinely upset customer or a troll who’s eager for battle.

While most unsatisfied customers will be happy to retract their comment or drop their argument once their complaint has been addressed, a troll will persist. The best way to determine if you’re dealing with a troll is to assess whether the comment seems sincere and whether the product, service, or person being mentioned has any relation to your business.

Look for additional things like:

  • Terrible spelling and grammar
  • Obscene language
  • Overuse of exclamations marks
  • Words typed in all caps

What do they want?: Absolutely nothing but attention. An online troll isn’t looking for any sort of resolution. Their main goal is to spread false or highly exaggerated complaints about a product or service.

Why is this so bad for business? : If not dealt with, the results of trolling can actually be disastrous for your business. If it’s hard for you to decipher whether your nasty commenter is legitimate or not, then you can bet it’s even harder for other readers (your potential customers) to decipher it.

Effects of trolling:

  • Lose potential customers: 46% of people use social media to complain about a business publicly. You may think this is not a concern but just one negative review could be enough to lose 22% of your customers. Having 4 or more can mean losing upwards of 70% of potential clients. Online trolls will smother your business with negative reviews and could cause you to lose the majority of your customers.
  • Distract from your message: Trolls are skilled at distracting from the message you are trying to put out there. By starting a rant and upsetting everyone, your message gets lost and your brand might be affected.
  • Damage your reputation: How you deal with online trolls will affect how the public views your company. Being highly emotional, rude, and reactive can make your brand look bad in front of real customers.

If your company is under attack from an online troll, the best thing you can do is take a moment to assess and plan how you will respond. Acting on an impulse and responding emotionally can cause damage you may not be able to fix later.

Check out these best practices for dealing with online trolls:

Ignore them

A troll’s main goal is to provoke negative reactions and start a fight because they want attention. So sometimes it’s just best to ignore them instead of fueling them.

If you already have bundles of positive reviews, its only realistic to expect one or two negative ones. In fact, if the only thing your potential customers see are a slew of positive comments and no negative ones, they may get suspicious that you are deleting the ones you don’t want others to see. This could cause your brand to be seen as dishonest. By leaving the less severe troll comments alone, potential customers will see that although you may not be perfect all the time, you are most of the time.

BUT…just because you’ve decided to ignore the troll, it doesn’t mean others will. Sometimes other trolls will see a review that has not been commented on and take that as a cue to chime in. In this case, inactivity may no longer be an option and you’ll need to try another strategy to avoid a complete tragedy.

Block or ban them

While most trolls are harmless, some can take things too far and be downright abusive, threatening, or persistent. In these cases, it’s best to block or ban them from your social media page and to report them if they are in violation of the policies of that social platform.

Respond with facts and genuine concern

By engaging with the troll, you show onlookers that you are doing everything you can to remedy a mistake you’ve made and that you’re willing to stand up for your company. In order for this method to be effective, you have to make sure you do not get emotional or defensive. This can be hard to do, but trolls are waiting for you to make this mistake.

Challenge the content of the negative review/comment in an objective way. If they’ve made claims about products or services that you don’t offer, let them know they made a mistake. You can also highlight the ways you would like to resolve the issue, if they’re willing to let you – this shows your community that you listened, you responded, and you were ready to remedy the situation.


Online trolling can be nightmare, no matter how reputable your business is. It’s important to constantly monitor your social media and learn how to identify and deal with trolls if you want to keep your brand and reputation intact.

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