How to Avoid Getting Burned by Flamers and Trolls

by Team Caffeine · 0 comments

Flamers and Trolls

You want your engagement with your followers to be sizzling hot and to buzz with excitement.

So what’s the deal with flaming? Doesn’t that heat things up, get the conversation moving?

It might do. But unless you’re a brand that’s all about controversy, then flaming’s probably not for you.

What is Flaming?

Flaming, according to Wikipedia is:

The act of posting deliberately hostile messages on the Internet.

Or:

A hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users

Wikipedia adds that flaming is “used mainly by trolls.”

We’ve all seen debates get heated on the internet. They rarely turn out well.

What should you do if your brand is flamed, or a flame war breaks out on your Facebook page?

Step 1: Remember, Prevention is Better than Firefighting

Sometimes people are perverse, and you’ll get flamed out of the blue for no reason. If this has happened to you, you can move on to the next step.

Most of the time, however, flaming happens for a reason. People will flame your brand because they’re frustrated with you. Something’s gone wrong, and it hasn’t been resolved. Just look at what happened to Amy’s Baking Company.

So, put out the fire before it happens. Make sure your social listening is up to speed and that you’re catching all brand mentions. When people raise problems about your brand on social media, jump in and solve it as quickly as you can.

Note: When people criticize your brand, it’s best to assume they’ve got good intentions. Treat their complaint at face value, rather than assuming they’re trying to flame you.

Step 2: Always Act Calm

Flaming burns. It’s painful. Flamers flame because they want to hurt you and provoke a reaction.

Whatever you do, don’t display your anger. Remain as calm as you can.

Remember this maxim: lose your temper, and you’ve lost the argument.

Step 3: Don’t Feed the Trolls

It’s not always easy to tell if someone’s got a legitimate complaint, or if they’re just trying to flame you.

Obviously, if someone is clearly trolling, you’re best to ignore it and delete it.

But what if things aren’t clear? We recommend responding to a potential flame once. Stay calm and professional in your response. This should cool things down, at least for legitimate and reasonable complainants. Flamers will continue to heat things up. If this happens, then it’s okay to disengage.

Step 4: Know that You’re In Charge

Social media is for the most part a public space. But you do have control over various aspects of it. You can decide whether to delete a flamer’s post on your Facebook page. You can decide to block an internet bully.

If you do this, you haven’t lost the argument. You’ve made a healthy choice for you and your business.

Engaging with trolls can cost a lot emotionally, so it’s best to leave them well alone. Then you’ll have more energy and buzz to focus on what matters.

Over to You

What are your top tips on dealing with flamers and trolls?

Lori R Taylor is the founder and executive editor of Social Caffeine. In 2009 she started her own direct response focused social media agency, REV Media Marketing LLC, coining the phrase given by her young son, “You bring the rain, we’ll make it pour.” Follow Lori on Twitter.

David is our acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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