Trolls_CoverThe Internet is a great place to learn, teach and communicate with other people all over the world. It’s also the breeding ground for people to voice their negative opinions or say really nasty things about people or businesses. While some of these negative comments are warranted, many of those nasty or rude comments on blog posts or social media pages come from a place of jealousy and spite. We like to call those perpetual nay-sayers Internet trolls.

As a business owner how do you deal with those pesky Internet trolls? You need to have a strategy.

You’ll Never Make Everyone Happy

First things first, some people are just unhappy. No matter how many times you offer them a free service or a coupon to make up for their displeasure, you’ll never make amends. If you have given it your best effort, offered up an apology and a solution, and they still aren’t happy, you need to simply brush it off. Now I wouldn’t normally suggest ignoring negative comments about your business on the Internet, but when you’re dealing with a person who won’t accept your apology, or work with you to alleviate the situation, it’s best to just ignore them.

Focus on the customers who love you.  Ask a few of your loyal customers to share a positive review or comment on the same platform where the negative review exists. The newer content will be more likely to be visible. This will work on your company Facebook page or on a Yelp listing.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Hit Delete

You can delete, or untag yourself from embarrassing photos on Facebook and delete tweets from your personal account, but those rules don’t apply when it comes to your business. The only thing worse than starting a feud with someone who leaves a negative comment is deleting that negative comment. Things are only going to get messier. This will often cause the customer to lash out on other platforms; comments will be shared with friends and family on a personal Facebook page.  Keep in mind the the average Facebook user has at least 100 friends, so the outrage of one customer will grow to many, all negatively affecting your business. And even worse, they may create a separate page to voice their feelings. Simply search for ” Maytag Sucks” for examples of consumers doing just that.

Do Not Engage

The worst thing you can do is become defensive in response to an Internet troll’s rude remarks. Say everything you want to say to and about the troll in the privacy of your home, out loud. Do not write your response in a tweet or Facebook post and save the draft because you might accidentally hit publish. Once you’ve physically gotten everything you want to say to that person out of your system, gather your thoughts and start drafting up your apology.  As the saying goes, kill them with kindness. It’s really hard for people to stay mad at you if you go above and beyond to help make the customer happy (even if you don’t want to).

Some people just won’t play nice on the Internet and that’s fine. Follow these guidelines and your business will come out on top. And remember, that saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is still relevant, even on the Internet.