How to deal with internet trolls

I wrote an article couple of years ago on how to deal with negative comments on social media. My number one piece of advice was ‘don’t attempt to ignore or delete the negative comment’. I’m now updating that recommendation to include…

Don’t feed the trolls.

Posted by Becca

We manage the social media accounts for a wide variety of businesses and 2016 has been the year of brand engagement. From those looking to sell their products directly to the public, to business-to-business accounts, we’ve seen a massive increase in engagement from their potential customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Linked In. Post likes, comments, shares and link clicks is usually what makes us as marketers smile. But occasionally, just occasionally, a troll waddles in and ruins our day.

Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument  (definition from

A troll is different to a disgruntled customer. They have not bought your product or service and have no intention of doing so. My advice for dealing with negative comments from actual customers remains the same: don’t ignore them, respond politely, personally and positively with TEARS.

Ignore personal opinions.

How to deal with internet trolls

I manage the Facebook account for a niche, fairly high end leisure product. For the purposes of this article, let’s say it’s a car*. It’s an established company, but with new owners and the company’s first social media pages. We’re running very targeted paid advertising campaigns on Facebook to raise awareness of the brand and its product.

The majority of comments on the sponsored posts are extremely positive and the cost per engagement is just £0.01, meaning the post is being well received by the right target markets.

However, roughly two in every 100 comments have been negative. It’s my job to deal with them on behalf of my clients. My advice in 2014 was to never, ever ignore a negative comment. But I have, so far, ignored 50% of the negative posts for this client. Why? Because… don’t feed the trolls. By this I mean: don’t give a negative poster who has no intention of buying the product anyway cause to post further negative statements. They can’t continue a dialogue on their own.

For example one troll commented: “£4995 na I’m ok thanx..can buy a bigger and better 1 for cheaper than that”

I ignored this comment. It’s his/her opinion there are better products for less money. I didn’t delete it and I wouldn’t recommend deleting a comment unless there’s a very good reason to (such as causing extreme offence to others). Even if it is negative, deleting a post doesn’t help with those who’ve already read it or even screen captured it. For the above comment fans of the page were actually kind enough to respond to this one with their own opinions about how there wasn’t a better option for less or even the same price.

Stick to facts.

So why have I responded to the other 50% of negative comments? Facts, that’s why. If the troll has said something about the company or product that is both not true and likely to negatively impact upon other people’s views of the company or product, it’s worth replying with the facts. But only the facts, no emotion or opinion.

Another price-related comment from another poor troll: “£4999 plus VAT get a proper car for that”

In my head my reaction was: “Actually it is a proper car, though you wouldn’t get another new one of the same quality for that price. The price you’ve put is £5 more that the actual price (which, by the way, is publicised widely both on the website and on this very Facebook page if you’d read it properly). And the price does include VAT. And please learn to read and punctuate properly.”

My eventual response was: “The price is £4995, which includes VAT.”

Stick to the facts, ignore the opinions.

If there is fact to correct it’s only worth so if it’s likely to impact upon others’ views of you. In the above case I probably wouldn’t have bothered about the £5 price difference, but the 20% VAT issue could be a deal breaker for other customers. As for troll-boy’s thoughts on what makes a car ‘proper’, well let’s leave him to ponder on that.

Think before you reply. If you reply.

It’s so tempting to reply with your anger as soon as you’ve been trolled. But don’t, that’s exactly how you feed a troll.

If the post needs a response to correct a fact, I’ll usually give it a good hour or so before posting my final reply. It’s often a far shorter statement than the first answer I thought of. Often the final reply is entirely different to how I would have originally responded anyway.

Remember a troll is very different to a disgruntled customer. If an actual customer posts something negative: don’t ignore them, respond politely, personally and positively with TEARS.


* The product type and the price has been changed to protect my client’s identity. The trolls’ comments, including punctuation and grammar, have not been changed. Trolls don’t deserve that.