Trolls can be distressing and the bane of anyone attempting to grow a social media brand, but they don’t have to be.
Social media expert Carissa Hill said openly and effectively dealing with trolls was a good way to build trust and respect on social media.
“I’ve had my fair share of haters, when building my Facebook page to 42,000 members,” said Carissa.
“The way I’ve dealt with them has helped my personal and business image by being authentic, relatable and using it as an opportunity to share my personal story,” she said.
Carissa said trolls were online bullies who tried to provoke people and bring them down.
Trolling includes sarcastic comments, insults, strong opposing views and off topic statements that deliberately derail conversation threads.
“To best deal with trolls, you need to understand their motivation,” said Carissa. “I believe trolls are unfulfilled people who try to meet their needs in negative ways,” she said.
“They seem to lack human connection so they find each other online and spur each other on, often working in well organised syndicates,” said Carissa.
“They seek variety and significance, bullying others for entertainment and a sense of importance and power. What most victims don’t realise is that trolls feel satisfied when they get an emotional reaction,” said Carissa.
Carissa said having a plan to deal with trolls was a must for anyone wanting to be successful on social media.
“If you want a good job you need a solid social media brand because employers will investigate you. And if you own a business, customers want to know more about you. So, it’s important to not be put off by the potential for negativity on social media, but instead use any criticism as an opportunity to show your values and who you really are,” she said.
How to deal with trolls
To deal with trolls, Carissa recommends:
- Ignoring it – don’t be baited. By retaliating, you are feeding the troll’s need for attention. Simply delete the comment and move on.
- Share your story – respond by being honest and real. Admitting vulnerabilities builds empathy, appreciation and rapport.
- Diffusing with humour – responding in a funny way can be effective if you can pull it off. It will endear you to your followers.
- Responding with kindness – kill hate with love. Trolls stirring up conflict will be confused by an unexpected nice response.
- Block, ban or report – comments that are offensive, a personal attack and/or hateful. Do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour.
With 10 years experience building brands on social media, Carissa said she has employed many tactics when dealing with trolls.
“I posted a photo of myself with short, bright pink hair and a woman said I looked like a ‘stupid Millennial with coloured hair’,” said Carissa. “I explained that I was suffering from Alopecia (my hair was falling out). I shaved my hair, dyed it pink and raised $3000 for charity in the process. My troll went quiet after that,” she said.
“When someone told me to ‘slap myself in the face because I was a stupid b**ch’ I deleted and blocked that troll. I won’t have people speaking to me like that,” said Carissa.
Carissa said over time people would build a following of people with shared beliefs and values.
“It’s the quality, not the quantity, of followers that matters,” said Carissa.
“When you have a community of people who like and respect you, they will deal with the trolls because negativity and hate are not welcome,” she said.
Trolling can become part of a serious pattern of behaviour targeting an individual. Cyber abuse can have a seriously threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating effect on a person.
For help dealing with cyber abuse, visit the eSafety Commissioner’s adult cyber abuse page here.
The Commonwealth Criminal Code has also been used to prosecute trolls. If you believe you have been defamed, seek legal advice.
Carissa Hill is passionate about personal branding on social media. When she was 21, Carissa started a spray tan business in her garage. It grew quickly using MySpace (before Facebook) and by the time she was 25 she had three stores, nine staff, three mobile services and a wholesale product range. In 2014 she started coaching and teaching how people could grow their businesses using social media marketing. Her Facebook page has 42,000 likes and her mastermind group Coffee with Carissa has 16,000 members.