Anyone who has ever dealt with an Internet troll knows that they have only one goal: disturbing, provoking and causing trouble. Social media platforms not only enable internet users to have an undisturbed worldwide exchange with each other, they also offer troublemakers a platform for targeted attack on groups, brands or people in their anonymity. For this purpose, the so-called troll uses the comment column of a social media page, a forum or below a tweet. With the help of provocations or highly emotional claims without factual basis, the troll tries to attract the attention of the group. From harmless taunts to massive insults and threats that constitute a criminal offense, everything is here.
Thomas Weigel, Chief Content Officer at the entertainment platform “You Know Yet”, explains how you can prevent and prevent the entry of trolls into your group or entertainment, especially on social networks.
Without attack surface, no trolls
Once a troll has crept into a conversation, often only hard measures help to end it and its negative effects on all involved. The result is always a pale aftertaste that does not go away so quickly. So that no troll creeps into your group or fan page, you should consider the following measures in advance:
Exclusion of trolls through content strategy
Without platform, no trolls. As easy as that sounds, unfortunately it is not. However, some content and themes have a larger attack surface than others. Above all, current news and socially critical topics attract the attention of trolls. If you deliberately exclude these topics, you reduce the likelihood of a troll attack right from the start. Daily team meetings and the creation of black and white lists with relevant topics and content can be very helpful.
Controlled entry into the group
To make the entry threshold for trolls as high as possible, the membership of your group should not be a simple click, but a release process by the group moderator. Coupled with this, targeted introductory questions and tips can exclude trolls. At the same time, it is possible to point out the desired type of communication within the group (netiquette) and measures to be taken in the case of rule violations.
Personal and open communication with the fans
As a rule, the closer you are to your fans, the more likely they will be to support you in complying with your “netiquette” and dealing with trolls. This also means that messages from your fans are taken seriously and promptly responded to – in the best case within 60 minutes.
Set group moderators
Solid group moderators, who take responsibility for the group and its contents, also belong to the effective prevention of trolls. They accompany the group, contribute editorial topics over and over again and respond quickly and neutrally to comments, questions and even negative reactions. So trolls can be recognized immediately and responded accordingly.
Recognize mood changes with the help of facelift and Co.
Social media marketing platforms like Facelift help to analyze content in real time, for example to detect changing moods and avoid shitstorms. Because trolls live on the fact that they draw as much attention as possible, which can often be recognized by the sudden appearance of a striking amount of comments or answers. Through a targeted sentiment analysis such reactions are quickly recognized and can be switched off accordingly.
Define and anchor escalation levels in advance
Unfortunately, trolls manage again and again to invade protected groups despite all measures. If this is the case, it is important to have pre-determined levels of escalation available that will take effect immediately and allow the group moderator to intervene and react immediately. A first step should always be to check the profile of the alleged troll. That way you can rule out that this is not a simple user who only has a bad day. If the troll is clearly identified, the following escalation levels can be considered, as far as the platform allows:
- the comment is deleted
- the user is excluded from the group
- The group is blocked for the user, that is, it is no longer displayed to him during the search
- not only the user, but also users or profiles that he has contributed to the group are removed from the group and excluded
- Violent, pornographic or inhuman comments are reported directly to Facebook with a request for exclusion from the entire platform
The right way to deal with social media trolls
A simple and universal guide on how to quickly identify and silence trolls does not exist. However, there are some rules of conduct that help to limit and minimize the effects of initiating shitstorms. Whether this is really a “real” troll or just an angry user is easy to find out: trolls do not respond to soothing words and are also interested in guilty concessions or suggestions for improvement. Often, they also stand out due to their high emotionality, personal and failing remarks and eye-catching or incomplete user profiles.
Once the culprit has been identified, you should stick to the most important maxim: Do not feed the trolls! Do not enter into a lengthy discussion and do not let yourself be provoked. Stay factual and master the discussion. If appropriate, point out errors in content or confess them in a sober and factual statement. Then you should not go into further comments and allegations.
Should the situation worsen, you can access the previously agreed and openly communicated escalation levels. Your goal should not be to fight the troll, but the protected communication of your group. Show her that you also deal with critical comments openly and honestly, but trolls promptly show the red card. Often, the community then manages the next troll itself, silencing it, or simply eliminating it.