I'm often asked, 'How do I handle social media trolls?'
If the social media comments really are at that extreme - abusive hate attacks from anonymous cowards - the answer is simple. Do nothing. Any response validates their existence, gives them pleasure and invites them to continue eating you. If their comments promote hatred directly, or rely on extreme emotional labelling (watch for the presence of 'f' and 'c' words), ignore them.
But many who ask that question are not really talking about trolls. They're wondering whether or how to reply to hurtful social media comment. Here's a general guide.
Here's another possibility. Imagine reading a social media comment (about you, your product, your organisation) is like walking along the street past clusters of people talking about you. You wouldn't seriously try to persuade each small group and correct their way of thinking. But if you saw one large crowd listening to an influential speaker, you might want to get involved.
So I salute the entreprenuer Sir Michael Hill, who saw that all the negative Twitter comment was generated by one key player with a heap of followers. He entered the fray, on Twitter, like this:
Have fun, but don't feed the trolls.
Interested in a workshop on media skills for your team?
First, let’s be clear on one point: I want to persuade you not to hire a spin doctor—but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing if you have a media disaster looming.
By all means get help, and sometimes that does take the expertise of a media consultant. But choose your consultant carefully. Telling the whole truth, whether making an admission or arguing your case, can be a disaster or a triumph, depending on how you do it.