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Social media & Internet Trolls: Do not feed the trolls!!!!

, March 27, 2024, 0 Comments

trolls-mondelez-marketexpress-inDo not feed the trolls; nothing fuels them so much – Oscar Wilde
Trolls in general were frequently mentioned in fairy tales of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. These mythical and quaint-looking creatures were considered to be trouble makers and they often spoke in riddles.

Internet trolls

The advent of the internet powered the trolls like never before as many of the users were anonymous and it dehumanized the potential targets. Many of the irrationally vindictive people had a ball with the advent of the internet.

Internet trolling initially began as “Flame Wars”. Flame is considered to be a vicious, personal attack on someone made simply because you disagree with them. According to Prof Norman Johnson, the uptick in flaming mainly occurred due to the absence of face-to-face or in-person communication as such contexts reduce an individual’s concern for social evaluation.
One of the earliest trolls who was documented was called a “net weenie”. Internet trolls are generally defined as people who take pleasure in insulting others who do not agree with their opinions and post nasty messages to annoy them. According to the Meriam Webster dictionary, “Internet troll is a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content”.

Thanks to the ubiquitous availability of phones and internet, online trolling has increased massively, twitter feeds, Instagram feeds are filled with toxic comments. Vloggers, and influencers have to be wary of the onslaught of online trolls as the moment they make a video live, there will be thousands of people trolling them.

The transition from conventional newspaper advertising to online advertising has its pros and cons. One of the biggest con is the immediate online trolling a brand faces. A few instances are cited below

Trolling of Brands
Brands have been incessantly trolled over the past few years due to easy access to customers to vent out their emotions. A few examples of brands being trolled are:

In certain contexts, the intent of trolling is genuine insensitivity on behalf of the brand like the example stated below of a Hollywood superstar like Pierce Brosnan promoting a product like Pan Bahar which is extremely harmful to health.

Pan Bahar


Source: Times of India

Cadbury – Mondelez International
Mondelez International started facing trouble when a few screenshots surfaced on Twitter indicating the presence of gelatin in Cadburys chocolate. Indians are extremely sensitive to consumption of Gelatine as it is derived from Beef. These posts acted as food for many online trolls, with godspeed posts saying “Boycott Cadburys” became viral.

Fortune Oil
Fortune Oil was trolled brutally for no fault of it, the brand ambassador of Fortune oil, ex-cricket captain Saurav Ganguly suffered a mild heart attack following which netizen’s dug up his ad. In the ad Ganguly was seen promoting fortune cooking oil as a heart healthy oil. The effectiveness of oil was questioned massively and the number of jokes cracked about the product were endless.


Source: afaqs

How can brands tackle these trolls ?
Not all negative comments are from trolls; some may come from genuine customers with valid complaints or feedback. Acknowledge these concerns and respond constructively, offering solutions or assistance as appropriate. Brands have a huge task in tackling trolls, the first step is to differentiate between a dissatisfied customer and a troll. A dissatisfied customer may rant about the specific context due to which he faced an issue with the product, and hence once his/her issue is resolved he will be silent. But online trolls initiate annoying and controversial conversations for the heck of it.

  1. Do(n’t) Engage or feed the Trolls – It is difficult to engage with trolls as trolls are often irrational and on an attacking spree, hence the brands have to be careful as anything expressed from a brand’s handle is a reflection on the company. Usually, it is safer to respond with factually correct information.
  2. Making Happy Customers Your Spokesperson – Brands can try to identify brand advocates from their followers who will pitch in and speak for the brand.
  3. Monitor and identify trolls: Use social media monitoring tools to track mentions of your brand and identify potentially problematic comments or users. This allows you to address issues promptly before they escalate.
  4. Stay professional: Maintain a professional tone in all interactions, even when dealing with hostile or inflammatory comments. Avoid personal attacks or retaliatory behavior, as this can reflect poorly on your brand.
  5. Use moderation tools: Many social media platforms offer tools to help manage comments, such as the ability to hide or delete comments, block users, or restrict who can comment on your posts. Use these features as needed to maintain a positive and constructive environment.
  6. Using humor to engage with trolls – Many brands like Tesco, Tinder use humor and clever wordplay to diffuse tension

Below are a few instances of effective handling of trolls by the brand.

Fortune Cooking oil – The brand Adani Wilmar’s Fortune cooking oil did not ignore this and came forward with a strong reply to all the online trolls with the below print ad that clarifies that heart’s health is not solely dependent on the cooking oil but umpteen other reasons.trolls-fortune-foods-marketexpress-in

Mondelez International – The brand chose to defend itself over the gelatin issue stating that Cadbury’s products featured in the post were not manufactured in India.trolls-mondelez-marketexpress-in

These examples demonstrate how brands can effectively handle trolls by responding with humor, empathy, transparency, and professionalism, depending on the situation. By constructively engaging with trolls and staying true to their brand values, companies can turn potentially negative interactions into positive opportunities for engagement and brand building.