No, I am not talking about mythical creatures that live under bridges, I am talking about real life internet social media trolls. Now there are different levels of Trolls from the evil to the stupid and everywhere in between. Evil trolls are the ones who deliberately and with malicious intent, bully and deliberately try to hurt people online – this is often people they know – and often children trolling other children. It is a big problem and can lead to – in extreme circumstances – suicide, and certainly trauma for the victim.
That is an important subject – but not one for THIS blog.
The Trolls I am referring to here are people who comment on other people’s stuff online, and not in a good way. 99% of THESE people do NOT know the person they are insulting/swearing at/accusing of/bitching about. They just feel it is their God given right – to say whatever they like, no matter how hurtful, derogatory or untrue.
The True Story of A Troll
It happened to a friend of mine this week. My friend Jessen had put a Facebook advert out about an event he was running (he is a business coach). I think it may have been a free event. And it had a lot of good comments on it from friends, clients and other people in his ‘tribe’.
And then there was – we will call him Mr Nasty – to protect his identity (though I don’t see why I should really). He was having a right old go at Jessen, calling him a scam artist and urging people (he didn’t know) not to “waste” their money or “be ripped off”.
Well, I don’t normally get involved in this kind of sh** of social media, but I couldn’t let this one pass without comment. So, I commented! I said that I had known Jessen for some years, that he was very genuine and not a scam artist. I pointed out that no-one was forced to attend the event and that yes, he WAS in business to make money but I assumed that so was Mr Nasty unless he was running a charity?
I also pointed out that since Jessen had 1500 followers on FB and Mr Nasty had 240 – it looked like what Jessen was doing was working. Of course, he naturally ignored all the relevant facts about the purpose of a business being to make money, and that he must also make money as a business owner (perhaps he doesn’t?), and went straight for the jugular – MINE!! Lol.
He pointed out that one of my pages only has 400 followers so I can’t be doing very well. I felt like pointing out that 400 is still better than 240 and that my actual business page – Strategy Social Media – has 12,000 followers after 2 years and my Leading Women in Business Page has 4,500 after maybe 6 months, but I didn’t. Because – you know what? You can’t argue with an idiot. And if you DO – then who is the bigger idiot?
To be fair to Mr Nasty – there may be a reason he is SOOO opposed to anyone using the S word (SELLING). Maybe he has had a bad experience in the past where he fell for an actual scam. Probably he is not very successful in business but the story he tells himself is that “he doesn’t have to advertise” and his customers find him.
Because here’s the thing. If he WERE very successful in business he would not begrudge or misjudge someone else who is successful. He would probably be too busy in his own world to notice, and if he did, he would think “Good On You”.
So – I choose to believe he is not a horrible, vile, spiteful person who makes no attempt to check his facts before passing his royal judgement on others. Though that IS clearly what he is (I say that tongue in cheek). I choose to believe that he needs help, sympathy and understanding. And I certainly don’t take it personally.
Don’t be Vanilla in Your Message and Your Marketing
As a good friend of mine, Andy Harrington, says – the universe is a balance. If there are people who love you, there will be others that hate you. Well, I kinda get what he means. And I have always said, the only way to have no haters is to be so vanilla that no-one feels very much about you either way.
Vanilla is a great flavour for an ice cream but not very good as a business or public persona. You have to put yourself out there. If YOU don’t have confidence in you – who the heck will? If you don’t come across as passionate and standing for something, if you don’t believe your message has meaning for others and you will do whatever it takes to get it out there – who else will ?
And let me tell you – the more you do that, the more likely it is you will get a hater. Or more than 1. Of course, you will hopefully have more people who like you than don’t and you will have some right raving fans. But there is every chance you will have a Mr Nasty. So, be ready for it.
No really – I mean it – be ready for it because it WILL HAPPEN. And the first time it does it can be a real shock. You feel affronted. You want to change their mind and show them you are a nice a genuine person. And I am telling you – 9 times out of 10 you won’t be able to. Because they are NOT interested in you – even though they seem to be – having commented on your stuff.
Trolls Are Not Interested In You Personally
They are interested in only ONE thing – the sound of their own voice. They have a deep need to ‘be right’ and to ‘be more clever’ than you, or anyone else they disagree with. They are not open minded, they don’t want to have a discussion, and if you engage them they will just try to ‘out clever’ you to show how amazing a person they are and how stupid you are. But YOU could be anyone to them.
They have absolutely NO interest in you. They are stuck in their own closed in world, with the baggage that they choose to carry around, and the only way they feel able to lift that load for a minute is by being hateful (but they of course, don’t believe they are being hateful. They believe they are right and doing the world a favour).
I will give you another example. I had a client last week who had a hater. This woman was a (fairly low level unsuccessful) blogger and she objected to my client following her for a second time, after unfollowing her. She proclaimed he was a scammer – getting people to follow and then unfollowing when she followed back. The thing that hadn’t occurred to her was – she HAD NOT followed him back and that is why he unfollowed her. She had been followed for a second time – everyone deserves a second chance right? And took exception.
Well, the vitriol! You would think he had taken an ad out in the paper calling her the worst blogger of all time, for the amount of abuse she sent out. There is no way to avoid these people unless you let them scare you into NOT going on social media. But then you are forgetting about the 1500 followers who love you (in Jessen’s case). So – who are you more bothered about 1 person with a bee in their bonnet or 1500 who think you are ace?
So, What Do You Do About Trolls?
Well you have 2 real choices (since we have ruled out getting into a “discussion” with them).
- Ignore them completely (this is the most time efficient option) and block them. This is also the one that will annoy them the most – so perhaps worth doing just for that reason.
- Politely reply and correct any untruths, offer to help – offline – and THEN if they don’t respond like a normal person – BLOCK them. Don’t waste another moment’s thought on them. They generally make themselves look bad with their vitriol, you don’t need to help them with that. For example – in the case of the blogger we responded – “So sorry we offended you by unfollowing, we NEVER unfollow anyone who follows us back. Can we buy you a coffee to apologise?”. In that way – our followers can see we are holding out the olive branch. This is what we would recommend.
And above all – DON’T WORRY about them. It actually means you are doing something right – you are out there, trying to grow your business and making your voice heard – and there is nothing wrong with that.
Have you experience Internet Trolls? We would love to hear what you did about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!