Fighting Trolling: How Trolling Affects Brands

  • Social media trolls aren’t going away anytime soon on the internet.
  • Trolls can heavily tarnish a brand’s image, which also has a significant impact on the brand’s marketing plans to promote any newly launched product or service.
  • Tanvi Bosmia, Associate Account Director – Brand Experience, SoCheers shares some tips on how to deal with social media trolls.

We live in an age where internet access is super easy. People love to share their unfiltered opinion on social media as it has always been a space for free speech, whether it’s a compliment for the brand or a complaint against them. Every individual is entitled to their opinion, no matter what impact it might have on the recipient’s person or brand. Brands today need to have a social media presence, period. It’s the easiest way to reach an exponentially large audience. And with all the positive aspects of this exhibition, there is also a negative side – the Trolls!

Although the “boycott culture” is as old as social media, sadly 2021 can be called a year of outrage as many brands were forced to pull their ads. For example, Tata’s jewelry brand, Tanishq, faced a considerable amount of backlash for its ad showcasing its new collection.
Ekatvam, with an interfaith babyshower. The brand was heavily criticized for promoting interfaith marriages and “love jihad”, and soon experienced a boycott trend. This led to Titan stocks crashing amid all the trolling and Tanishq took down the video, even though the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said there was nothing indecent, vulgar or repugnant in advertising, to cause serious and widespread offence. Likewise, there have been many campaigns like that of Manyavar”
Kanyamaan», that of Dabur
Karwachauth ad, Sabyasachi”
mangal sutra ”Collection, by FabIndia”
Jashn-e-Riwaazand so on, who have faced major fallout for their progressive thoughts.

Unfortunately, these trolls can heavily tarnish a brand’s image, which also has a significant impact on the brand’s marketing plans to promote any newly launched product or service. It also leads to the brand message getting lost in all the chaos created by these trolls. This in turn leads to upsetting consumers who are actually there with real intent. Here are some solutions to better handle these troll situations:

  1. Effective ORM practices: Trolls don’t always stand out easily, and it can be difficult for the brand to distinguish between a disgruntled customer and a troll. Usually, trolls start a conversation of a controversial nature as an unhappy customer will settle down once their complaint has been addressed and resolved. Timing is very important and given the speed at which social media platforms move, it is essential for the brand to ensure that they respond within an hour and provide a contact number/username. email to write to or simply ask them to “DM” (direct message) to deepen the conversation. Any delay in response from the brand can lead to speculation and further stir up unrest in the customer. Quick replies play a very important role and can go a long way in converting disgruntled customers into a part of their community, which will also help weaken the troll community.

1. Don’t engage with trolls: Once the brand identifies a troll, it can be difficult to engage in conversation with them. Anything that gets out of the brand’s handle on social media is a direct reflection on the business and one wrong response could have a completely irreversible and negative impact on the brand’s image. Therefore, responding with factually correct information can help defeat these trolls. That said, trolls are also hard to reason with, and arguing with them could only fuel the fire further. So, in such cases, the ideal solution for the brand would be to flag their posts/comments and be careful of anyone else interacting with the troll to prevent it from escalating.

2. Effective crisis management: Having a crisis committee in place that can create an action plan that includes all possible solutions for each type of post or comment can help the brand prepare for whatever comes next. follow and deal with it accordingly. Social listening is a very effective way to monitor and track any negative sentiment that arises about the brand on the internet and facilitates action in real time. There are various eavesdropping tools that can help effectively fight trolls, avoid such a crisis, and prevent brand image from being hampered.

3. Make Your Satisfied Customers Your Spokesperson: Establish clear guidelines to ensure that all communications that get out of the brand’s handle are religiously/politically safe and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Identify brand ambassadors among their followers who ardently follow everything they post and can speak on behalf of the brand, creating positive sentiment about the company. Maintain full transparency and post content that showcases the values ​​the brand stands for and how valuable their customers and feedback are to them. This, in the long run, will help build a community that will also control these trolls and support the brand in crisis situations. For example, Flipkart was trolled last year after one of its service executives told a customer that the company couldn’t deliver goods to Nagaland because it “doesn’t deliver outside India”. The answer was probably a real mistake; however, it was too late by the time Flipkart realized and apologized since they had already been hit by the trolls.

To sum up, social media trolls aren’t going away anytime soon on the internet. The best way to avoid getting trolled is to be fully prepared and have a process in place with the team that handles brand handles on how they will deal with trolls or unhappy customers before a such a situation does not occur. Once the process is in place, based on the learnings, the brand can come up with a detailed action plan on how it will approach and deal with the different situations that may arise in the future and also ensure that the image brand is intact.


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