We all know internet comments sections are the place the goodness of humanity goes to die. Want to feel like you’re smarter than the rest of the world? Read the comments. Want to to get really angry? Read the comments. Most of the commenters are likely just decent-to-good people with strong opinions and a keyboard. What about those overly malicious commenters – the instigators? You know the type.
Contractor – meet Troll. Troll – you’re a jerk.
While we can all eyeroll and close our laptops when trolls pop up on someone else’s page, what is a contractor to do when a cackle of trolls invades your marketing page, website, blog, or social media accounts?
Know the Difference
While all trolls are negative, not all negative comments are synonymous with trolling.
Contractor by Day, Troll Hunter by Night
Trolls are not looking for resolution. A article titled, “Don’t Feed the Haters: The Confessions of a Former Troll”, author Paul Jun gives an extensive outline of a troll’s motivation; they only want attention. Jun writes, “They will criticize you, post inflammatory comments, or write remarks just to make you wonder how someone could be so dumb. The problem is that you will feel compelled to respond to “set things right.” Even if you respond in a cheerful or positive way, you’re still feeding the troll.”
“Look at me, look at me!” they grouse. “Say something back! Defend yourself! Get even!” Like a child throwing a temper tantrum in aisle 5 of the grocery store, a true troll cannot be appeased. He needs to be ignored and probably put down for a nap.
If you want to really understand the psyche of a troll, read the linked article. In this article, I don’t care about the trolls. I care about you, the contractor; You care about your client.
The Client behind the Troll Mask
The easiest way to separate the wheat from the chaff is to ask the commenter to send their contact information (via private message) in order to resolve the issue “offline”. Trolls thrive on anonymity. Your past clients may get a little more passive aggressive sitting behind their screen, but ultimately they are looking for resolution – they are not trolls. Don’t let their remark go unanswered.
- Listen. Reply promptly.
- Publicly accept responsibility where it is needed.
- Privately take steps to rectify the situation.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Humor is a great tool.
- Be kind, even when it’s not your fault.
Why is the climate of your response important? Unlike product based companies, your primary goal is likely not customer retention. The disgruntled homeowner won’t be needing another set of kitchen cabinets installed anytime soon. However, by giving a calculated, prompt, and graceful reciprocation, you are providing the public (read: potential clients) a first hand example of how you treat people and conduct business. In a world where Google reviews appear above your company webpage in a simple search, you must positively participate in the conversation.
In the words of the wise Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate (…hate, hate, hate, hate).” Don’t let the haters deter you from the wonderful world of social media. Proactively pursue your clients and leave the trolls to wallow under the bridge.