Trolls and Their Impact on Social Media

Social media is a huge part of our lives. It’s used in everything, and it’s everywhere. We all use it; our friends use it, advertisers use it, celebrities, retail brands, etc. The world population is 7.3 billion and the Internet has 3.17 billion users. With these kinds of numbers, all types of users will undoubtedly be subjected to some form of social media trolling during their usage. Trolls, who create conflict on social media sites by making controversial statements with the purpose of causing havoc, can be found in almost every corner of the web. They can create problems for people, businesses, and the general well-being of some aspects of social media.

In this article, I’m going to review social media trolling: what it is and isn’t defined by, handling criticism, examples of brand management, how social media impacts brand management, and examples of how brands and companies deal with online trolling.

What Is Trolling?

Trolling is defined as creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community. Basically, a social media troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users. If you’re an active social media user, chances are that you’ve experienced trolling in one way or another. Growing up as a teenager during the rise of social media usage, I’ve witnessed lots of trolling. The most prominent, in my opinion, is on YouTube. On every comment thread there are users who say something like “this video sucks,” “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” or the classic “five people need to get their brains checked!” referring to the number of people who have disliked that video.

Trolling also happens bountifully on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook gets particularly intense when there are national or international events going on. Going on a conservative or liberal Facebook page is like entering a literal boxing match of words. Arguments are endless in supply, and comments from both sides trying to get a rise out of the other often appear in threads. However, it should be noted that just because there is a deliberation doesn’t mean that trolling has happened. Someone who argues a point isn’t trolling. Someone who makes a wild and unwarranted comment about that person’s mother IS trolling. Someone who brings something off topic into the conversation in order to make that person mad IS trolling. I’m not going to cite specific examples because there are too many to think about. Trolling isn’t hard to spot, even if you’re not sure what to look for.

If You're on Social Media, Know How To Respond To Trolls

If you’re someone who owns a company or has a brand, you’re probably thinking about joining or are already on social media. About 83% of businesses are on social media in America. It provides an excellent way to engage in different demographics, reach new potential customers, and most importantly to grow your brand awareness. But like I said earlier, if you’re on social media, you’re going to experience trolling. This is even more relevant if you’re a popular company or brand. Therefore, you have to know how to handle criticism and how to manage your brand. Responding to trolls in a funny way has been shown to work well if you can pull it off. Wendy’s knew how to handle negative social media when they responded to a tweet asking “What should I get from Mcdonald’s?” with “Directions to the nearest Wendy’s.”

You should also be prepared for responding to things that get attention from social media. In 2016, a company called Miracle Mattress had to respond to an incident regarding one of their San Antonio stores. They posted a seriously controversial video promoting a 9/11 twin mattress deal. After deleting the video from the page’s Facebook, the owner of Miracle Mattress wrote a deeply sincere apology letter and posted it on their Facebook. Being quick to act, sincere in your actions, and having the ability to own up to mistakes can be vital brand management.

The Internet Should Be a Good Place
Social media is an excellent way to engage with the world around you and a great way for brands and companies to engage with users. While it can be a very positive thing, you’ll probably run into trolls on the internet. Trolls can be a bad thing or they can be a good thing! You have to know how to deal with trolls. Staying on the offense is important, along with knowing how to respond to a troll’s comments and criticism. I hope you found this article helpful!