How to Deal With Social Media Trolls

Trolls used to live under bridges and ask interesting riddles. Today, they live on social networks and leave caustic comments.

"Online services … are plagued more than ever by trolls looking to cause emotional distress," explains Fast Company contributor Michael Grothaus, who says brands can be victims of Internet trolls just as easily as individuals. "Some forms of brand trolling can be harmless and humorous, but there are also more malicious attacks, which if not dealt with properly, can potentially harm a brand."

To deal effectively with trolls on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, silence is usually the best strategy.

"The most important rule to remember is to avoid getting into an argument with them," Grothaus says. "Trolls are generally impervious to logic and reason, which makes dealing with them rationally a virtual impossibility."

One exception is when the troll harasses another commenter. Then, brands must intervene.

"Brands should allow negative comments against the business, providing no defamatory language is used, to provide an opportunity for the business to respond in a positive manner," Clare Groombridge, founder and director of boutique social media agency South Coast Social, tells Grothaus. "However, in the instance of a follower being singled out and targeted in a personal, derogatory manner, we would advise it would be appropriate to issue a comment that such behavior will not be tolerated and similar comments will be deleted -- otherwise [the brand] could be accused of complacency."

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