How to handle bad reviews and worse: internet trolls
You’ve seen them in action: online ogres and social media minxes, wreaking havoc and mixing it up on Facebook and other online hotspots. But when one targets you or your insurance agency, suddenly it’s not so funny. Because they can mess with your online reputation, we’re dedicating a blogpost to six ways you can handle internet trolls.
Related: More insurance agency marketing tips
Marketing studies show that consumers are more than 57 percent of the way through their buying decision before they contact you directly. That means it’s up to you to monitor your online reputation to make sure that what they’re seeing is all good – or as good as it can be. Of course, you can’t control what’s being said on such review sites as Yelp, but you CAN respond quickly to diffuse the situation and take the conversation offline. At least, that can be done for unhappy clients. Trolls are a different matter. But how do you tell the difference?
How to know when it’s a troll or an upset client
Both are unhappy, even angry. Both are saying things you really wish they wouldn’t. Digging deeper is the key to uncovering their identity. Trolls just want to make trouble. Their claims may be outlandish, or may be based in facts…barely. They’re just trying to make you look bad, and aren’t looking for a remedy to their issue. Additionally, said Saikat Basu on his post, trolls
- Generally use provocative and confrontational language. A clever one will mix it up with relevant and friendly posts.
- Hardly ever stick to the topic; they beat around the bush with the intention to confuse the reader.
- [Start off] with innocent questions. You will often find them dressed up as new members of forums and chat rooms.
- Lack understanding of a topic. They will not respond with a proper answer to a proper question.
- Use catch phrases to win sympathy. For instance, they may portray themselves as victims or specially challenged.
- Use web addresses or fictitious online identities that lead to dead ends.
- May make desperate efforts to [be] liked. Sugar coated responses or overt-flattering comments are signature troll moves.
Clients, on the other hand, want a solution. They want you to step up, take ownership, and fix it. Often times, they’ve resorted to social media or Yelp to get your attention, because your fix just isn’t happening quickly enough or isn’t as thorough as they’d like. Clients, upon having their issue addressed and resolved, will probably be satisfied and the unhappy messages will cease.
6 tips to handle internet trolls
Here are the six things you need to do on a continual basis to silence the trolls and maintain a good online rep.
- Listen. Don’t ignore complaints or set up an auto-response email for them, whether on your website or social media. Instead, you need to listen to what’s being said about you – and to you. Acknowledgement that the commenter has been heard is an important first step. If it’s a real client and you help them, they’ll almost always respond publicly with a thank you.
- Respond carefully. Make sure you have the facts before you respond publicly. Respond pleasantly and affirmatively, never defensively or combatively. “It’s a good practice to acknowledge where the commenter is making a valid point or even apologize as necessary, said John Brandon in his post on CIO. Sometimes humor can be used to diffuse the situation – but use humor carefully: what’s funny to you and your team may not be funny to an angry client (and trolls lack a sense of humor).
- Correct mistakes. Typically it’s best to offer an apology such as “We’re sorry your having an issue with (fill in the blank), and we want to make it right. Let’s take this offline and onto email so that I can ask a few more questions to pinpoint and resolve the issue,” and provide your email address. If it’s a simple fix that you can change right away, do so and then tell them in the same space that they complained (on Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, etc.) Then if it ends up being a success story for you, post that as well!
- Ignore trolls. If you’ve ascertained that this person is indeed a troll, it’s best to simply ignore them. The more you engage, the more you’ve validated their platform, and the more quickly the situation will escalate. They want attention. Like a bully, they’re spoiling for a fight. Take the high road and ignore them; the more they rant, the more foolish they typically look to everyone else.
- Block or ban. Consider deleting their comments on any sponsored post that you’ve paid for. After all, it’s your money that’s being spent, and the troll shouldn’t be allowed to jack it up. Each social network has standards that everyone should follow. If the troll is violating the standards, then file a complaint. Just follow these links:
F. Patrol. Remember, this isn’t a once-and-done project. It’s something you need to stay on top of frequently. Ensure that each of your social networks are set up to email you when someone comments, so that you can respond quickly. Check your Yelp, Google and Bing reviews on a regular basis as well, responding promptly. And now that Angie’s List is open to everyone, we may see insurance agents have their own category, so keep an eye out on this site as well.
It takes perhaps 15 minutes a week to patrol your online presence, checking various review sites, social media, forums and more. And it’s well worth the time spent to ensure your online reputation remains spotless.
Related: Six ways insurance agents can rock social selling on LinkedIn
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The 7 Essential Steps to Monitoring Your Online Reputation
5 Most Effective Ways To Deal With Arrogant Internet Trolls
How to Deal with Social Media Trolls – Hootsuite Blog
How to Deal With Social Media Trolls : Social Media Examiner
10 Tips to Dealing With Trolls – Forbes
5 ways to handle comment trolls on social media | CIO