Businesses today need to be on the Internet, period. And with all of the positive things that come along with that exposure also comes the inevitable major downside- the dreaded Internet haters and trolls. And while I do enjoy a hater from time to time, these trolls can really do damage to your business or brand if they’re not handled appropriately (like RG3’s recent feud with a fan that became a major news story). So, we have asked our CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to provide their best tips for handling Internet trolls and haters. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Kill Trolls with Kindness
Trolls and haters are an unfortunate fact of life on the Internet. If your business has a blog, chances are you have experienced blog trolls who try to start arguments just for the fun of getting people worked up, particularly the blog writer. The best way to deal with them is to be kind and just agree to disagree with them. Do not argue with them and get into a flame war -- that is what they want you to do! Just be kind and then ignore them and they will go away to bug someone else.
2. Make Them Feel Heard
I've found that the best way to handle a troll is to acknowledge them, thank them for their comments, and let them know they've been heard. Use the most tactful, eloquent language you can muster up. Like any bully, if a troll suddenly feels like they're being listened to, the mean behavior usually stops.
3. Stay Professional
Business owners are understandably upset when someone maligns their company. However, lashing out at critics does far more harm for your company image. If you do need to publicly respond to a negative review, do so in a constructive way. Similarly, posting personal photos, updates, and information on your business profiles opens you up to personal, as well as professional criticism.
4. Use it as F.U.E.L.
When (not if) you experience these trolls, you can either fuel their fire or you can use the experience to fuel your own fire. When 'this' happens, I like to think positive:
F - find humor in every obstacle or situation (big smile)
U - unleash something new + amazing in your own business
E - enjoy your mocha + your own great moments (@#$%@ them)
L - love on your clients + your biz even more
Summary: never let anyone steal your joy!
5. Never Feed the Trolls
There is a difference between a customer complaint and a troll/hater who gets combative online. A complaint should always be acknowledged & addressed. A troll is simply there to incite anger. Don't feed them the very treat they are seeking! The best method is often humor, as your community will enjoy seeing you win with a laugh. If wit isn't your best weapon, go with a graceful response or none at all. Your loyal community knows who the bigger person is already. Showcase that or keep quiet.
6. Let it Dwell
The best advice I ever got about responding to hateful comments was to not respond immediately. Let it dwell for a day.
The temptation to reply and defend yourself is a natural reflex. But, if instead you take the time to mull over the situation and prepare a thoughtful response, not only do you frustrate the hater, who was hoping to goad you into an argument, you also come out looking like a calm, diplomatic professional who is knowledgeable and confident in her views.
7. Why Haters ARE Haters
Business/organization haters are an amusing breed of humans. Most times, their behaviors are jealousy driven. One time, my advocacy effort was written up in Christian Science Monitor. Afterwards, I received an email from a person who was involved in the same line of charity service as I was. He categorized me as idealistically misguided. I've seen hater behavior in Church, humanitarian efforts, and the Scouting program. Several times, I was called self promoting. Ignore them! It is their issue! Sad but true.
8. Say a Thank You
The best way to deal with them is to say a 'thank you' no matter how rude or stupid the comment is. If appropriate, give a shocking or hilarious but factual comeback backed with evidence. Under no circumstances, should you delete or ignore them!
9. Key Benefit of Trolls & Haters
The best way to deal with internet trolls and haters is to embrace and thank them. Why? Because it means that you’ve struck a nerve with people. All it takes is one troll to post a comment on your article or blog post, and BAM! Your business and website have the potential to go viral and get picked up by news outlets, online and offline. Respond professionally to trolls and enjoy the fact that they may help to catapult you and your business to the next level.
10. Nap, Sweep, Swat, Flush
NAP: If they are truly trolls and not customers with a complaint, ignore them. Take a nap.
SWEEP: If the trolls leave a trail of slime behind them, sweep it up. Ask any website owner with inaccurate or libelous comments (respectfully) to remove them.
SWAT: Refute objectively with facts and no emotion; you might want to hire a writer to get the tone just right. Swat!
FLUSH: Replace negative reviews in search engines with positive ones. Flush them away.
11. Never Argue with a Fool
I developed a presentation on how to do presentations, geared to a technical audience. I came up with this idea working for a firm with weekly lectures that were supposed to be ½ hour. They ran 2 hours. I told the mostly Ph. D. staff that it was OK to be incomplete. You can only say so much in the allotted time/space. When it came to addressing questions, I suggested: delay, defer, go-offline. Say, "I disagree," and move on. Never argue with a fool; others can't tell the difference.
12. Let Your Fans Do the Talking
We run an on-going video review channel and we regularly get trolls. Those that cross the line get banned, but mostly, we let our fans deal with them (respectfully). We find by letting our community reinforce the expected levels of civility, we attract the right kind of viewers and thus, customers.
13. Don't Feed the Trolls!
If you own a business, it's only a matter of time before you're faced with a troll or hater.
They usually thrive on getting a negative response and/or inciting anger.
Therefore, I choose one of two actions:
If the comment contains a valid complaint, I address it as politely as possible and thank them for the comment.
If the comment is simply false, I respond with a correction. If it's just to incite anger, I ignore it.
These types of responses take the wind out of their hater sails!
14. Do Engage, Don't Instigate
Unfortunately, internet trolls may attack your business from time to time. Their criticism may be misleading, unfair and/or out of nowhere. When this occurs, don't panic. Getting upset and responding emotionally will only instigate the trolls to stay negative. Instead, engage with them by responding intelligently and directly addressing their negative comments. Even if you don't "win the trolls over," other rational viewers will see that you reacted professionally.
15. Naysayers are Quitters
The people who tell you that you can’t do something have already quit trying. “Become a multimillionaire, yeah right.” They are saying, “I’m a quitter and I am hoping you quit too because it will justify why I quit.”
You want to be really successful? Remember, there has never been a successful person who wasn’t criticized, hated on, or underestimated. Make this your life quote in handling the haters, “One week they like me, the next week they hate me, both weeks I get paid.”
16. For Every One...
We always say for every one internet troll and hater, market three "appreciators". Be it in ads, commercials, marketing literature, simply post (or advertise) the allowable comments of those repeat customers and citizens that appreciate your business and/or service. They speak for themselves!
17. Make a Phone Call
Haters gonna hate, but sometimes, the hate is facilitated by the anonymity of the internet. It's easy to shout at a faceless business online. Plus, the hate is sometimes just a cry for customer support. Making a quick phone call to the hater will often diffuse a conflict because it personalizes the interaction. The hater realizes that there is a real person behind the business who has taken the time to call and help. It's not a silver bullet, but it often turns a hater into an evangelist.
I created a belief system known as R2C2 that has helped myself and others negate negativity from detractors. The acronym stands for, "Ridicule is the Respect of the Critics paid to the Champions". The mindset shift encapsulated in this phraseology orients your focus towards your greatness. What was a trigger for sadness--someone else's disempowering statement--becomes a reminder of your prosperity. This mental belief is the difference between an "upbeat" and "beat up" achiever. Use R2C2 today.
19. "Let it Go....Let it Go"
If you have a personal attack against you or a person in your organization, the writer has already destroyed their own credibility. As painful as these types of personal attacks can be, ignore them. Otherwise, you will be viewed as stooping to their level. If criticism does not pertain to your product, service or brand ……"Let it Go, Let it Go”.
Throughout your life, there will always be those, for their own reasons, looking to bring others down.
NEVER get caught up emotionally. That is exactly what they are trying to bait you into. Staying centered & calm will keep you thinking clearly.
Do not start back peddling & defending yourself. Again, this is what they are looking for.
You can have a simple response, & it's not to 'Them', but more to those that you do business with.
You can say: Those who know me, know who & what I am.
21. Steal Their Thunder!
Use the hater for one of your speaking points. Compare the hater to one of your happy clients. E.g., a writer who didn't like a critique we provided to help him improve his poorly written novel posted a video trashing my name and company - even after we gave him extra free time to help him. Another writer who wrote a book comparable to the hater's thanked us for our advice and told us he can't wait to come back with his next draft. So, who do you think is going to be successful?
22. Never Respond
There's only one rule when it comes to dealing with Internet trolls: Never respond. Doing so only encourages trolls to keep the game going.
If you must, instead of responding directly in the channels where the trolls themselves are operating, use your existing and verified channels - social media, website, blog, etc. - to create and publish content that reinforces the things that make your brand great. Never play the game on the enemy's turf.
23. Stick to Your Anti-troll Rules
I'm very strict when it comes to the idea of online trolls; treat them like you would treat someone who came into your place of business in real life.
If they spread garbage, scream AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS or pester your other customers, kick them out. Establish your rules for what it takes to be banned from your page (on your site or your social media) before you launch it and stick to your guns.
24. Not Making is Playing it Safe
The only way to get zero unsubscribes (and zero negative comments) is to send zero emails, or have zero people paying attention to you.
In business, you can either be loved and hated, or have no one feel anything towards you. If you're a brand or a person that promotes an emotional response (love, fans, likes, shares), then you're going to have some people that feel equally strongly against you. It's better to have haters than have no one thinking about you at all.
25. Tips to Deal with Trolls
Remember That They Want A Reaction; they’ll go to any length and say ANY thing no matter how distasteful. They have no boundaries. Nothing is off limits when it comes to shocking you and provoking a reaction. They win when you react and you ALWAYS lose when you engage them. It isn’t personal, you might be the intended target, but more often than not, they don’t care who reacts as long as someone does. Become indifferent. They’re likely obsessively waiting for a reaction.
26. Don't Feed Internet Trolls
The best thing to do with Internet trolls is ignore them. As soon as you feed them a response, you get 10 more that pop up and before you know it, you're surrounded by trolls. As for the haters, if it's about your business and service, and there's a plethora of them, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate how you do both. If it's just one, reach out to them in a professional manner to try and resolve their issue.
27. Diss 'Em, Then Block 'Em
I do a lot of videos on YouTube and at times, they're controversial. That means trolls galore. Answering them back is sometimes fun. You tell them off and then, block them from your channel. That means they can't reply and you have the last word. That’s fun for a few go-arounds. It’s your channel - you’re the one in control! Moving forward, I only allow comments on my YouTube and Facebook to be posted after I approve them. When you ignore trolls and give them no voice, they go away.
28. Speaks for Itself
My best advice for dealing with trolls and haters in business is to include client testimonials in your external communications, web site or social media posts. Let the positive words of supporters send internet trolls into hiding. That way, your supporters/clients sing your praises to counter the negativity of your haters!
Thanks to: Crystal Tatum.
29. Finish it
A true troll or hater must be put in their place with a well finessed response. A business should tailor the response to fit the situation at hand and no matter what, keep the response factual, professional, direct (but non-confrontational), and above all - positive. A business’s goal here should be to make their point and finish the conversation on their terms. Then, once complete, the troll/hater should be ignored as continuing to converse with them will only cause further issues.
30. Trick a Hater, Ignore a Troll
Businesses need to be aware that replying to a troll is as risky as replying to a spammer – it signals that there is a target there.
However, in many cases, a 'troll' is really just a 'hater'. Therefore, responding with humor is key to diffusing them.
You see, the trick is to respond politely and factually with just enough humor to keep it on the same level as the criticism. Easy!
31. Be Real, Be Authentic
When McDonald's hosted an open online chat with customers in Canada, one hater posted: “Your food looks a lot better on TV than in stores.” McDonald's response: “The food on TV is the same as the food in stores. Instead of us writing you a response, here is a 3 minute video with our director of marketing that shows how we make it look so good for TV.” McDonald's kept it real - they were authentic. Once you create a positive relationship with your customers, they want to show you love.
32. Engage w/ the Goal of Learning
1. Accept the validity of the hater's perspective, that he/she actually feels that way, and that he has some reason for believing that hate to be warranted. This is how you learn from your mistakes in business. Every business could use improvement and your customers are the best source of suggestions for improvement.
2. Treat each touch with a public hater as a story for spectators to learn from.
3. Don’t hide from haters. Engage them sincerely, with as much transparency as possible.
33. Troll? Stand on His Head!
Use the troll's negativity to inspire you to make your business more effective and brilliant than before!
It’s best to increase the distance between the troll and ourselves - by improving our product, improving our service, and striving constantly to be the best in the market. The results speak for themselves; customers are quite happy to make their own minds up. Success is always going to attract envy; don't give it airtime, rather use it as fuel to reach the next level.
34. Water Off a Duck's Back
Fact, no one is liked by everyone. Fact, not everyone will agree with what you have to say or do. Accepting these two facts helps to soften the personal hurt experienced when you encounter trolls and haters. These folks are seeking attention, especially if you have more influence than they do. If you must respond, respond without anger- that only fuels their low self-esteem. Otherwise, consider the source and let those remarks roll off your back like water off a duck's back.
35. Focus on the Positive
Focus on the positive and resist the urge to react. This gives you freedom to choose your response. Focus on the benefits that you provide to your customers and clients. Get testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers. The reality of life is that not everyone is going to “like” you, and “haters” are going to “hate.” If you react to them, you’re only giving them what they “want”, which is a reaction from you. Focus on your business and delighting your customers.
36. Confront the 800 Pound Gorilla
Despite how uncomfortable it may be, the best thing to do is to address the 800 pound gorilla head on. You need to find out what the REAL issue is. Chances are, they are not telling you the real issue. You need to dig deep and ask questions. Without knowing the issue, there is no way to remedy it. With just this simple method, you can quickly flip the script. If you don't ask, you don't know!
37. Recover in Spectacular Fashion
If you have made a mistake, admit it, go above and beyond to repair it, and show you care by either being available or having experts available to respond to inquiries. Following the bump in the road, make sure to monitor your mentions across a variety of social media platforms by using the free tool at social mention dot com.
38. Let Them Drink the Juice!
No internet troll or social media hater can destroy you or your business. The bigger the troll or hater, the more it points to the fact that you are doing something right. Just make sure you sign up for the services that will alert you when your name, product or business has activity on the internet. Allow the trolls and haters to drink the juice of your success and watch them get sick off of it. No one can beat you at doing what you have been assigned to do. No haters, no business!
39. Laugh and Celebrate it!
Laugh! Really! I’m part of a brilliant collaborative mastermind called Mindshare Summit and each year, we submit the wackiest hate messages, crazy book reviews and bizarre email complaints for the Insanity Awards. The best of the worst are selected as winners. At the last event, the amazing host of Mindshare, JJ Virgin, actually brought on a fabulous comedian to announce the winners and we were all falling off our chairs laughing. We figure it means we’ve arrived, so why not celebrate it!
Do you have a tip for helping businesses deal with Internet trolls and haters that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!