Don’t Feed The Trolls

If you work on social media, you probably know what this phrase means. The social team here has worked on social media since myspace. Not familiar with the social dinosaur myspace? Read on.

We have worked predominately in the good food movement, clean living, and green beauty spaces and have encountered a lot of pushback from fake accounts used by the opposition to attack the pages we admin and even at times they’ve attacked us personally.

In fact, internal documents from some of the world’s most powerful PR firms have created troll strategies with fake accounts to defeat our work. We refer to these fake accounts as “trolls.” But it isn’t just our niche that suffers the regular troll attack. No, trolls are everywhere and you must have a troll patrol protocol. (You can borrow that.) 🙂

Tips to handling parody accounts, fake/paid accounts, trolls and shills on social.

  1. Don’t feed the trolls. When in a discussion/chat/live stream or hangout do not communicate directly to the trolls from your main account. This type of activity attracts your followers to their discussion. These paid-for accounts are always aiming to spin the conversation and put you on the defense. Trolls are like gremlins, you don’t want to feed them, or they will multiply!
  2. Don’t give away your platform to trolls. The goal of all trolls is to distract you from your purpose and manage them. Again don’t feed them by paying attention to them. Typically these accounts have zero traction on social media, and they’re looking to you to give them relevance. The trolls will take over the second you make your platform their playground. If you engage too much, you’ve given away your power as a social influencer.
  3. How to respond to negative comments, messages or tweets. Our policy is to always answer a question but never an accusation or character assassination. We view the pages we work on as a social party much like a house party, and if someone were abusive they’d be asked to stop, then leave, and they’d never be invited back. Always give a warning and don’t be afraid to ban the abusive account the second you are sure it is a troll or a social abuser. If you’re truly not sure, use our tips below to uncover trolls.

How to spot a fake account, troll or shill:

  1. The first sign of a fake account is a fake name.
  2. Fake accounts will typically have zero activity or will have liked the oppositions content thus showing you whom they are likely working with or affiliated.
  3. Typically the profile won’t have an image of a real person. The photo will be of a landscape, U.S. flag, fuzzy photo, no photo at all or an animal.
  4. The profile will commonly attack you personally, attack your mission, purpose or make some flagrant remark.
  5.  Usually, the fake accounts come all at once; this is another indicator that a troll page has asked their audience to target the post, tweet or hashtag.

The best way to handle any troll professionally is to recognize them as a paid employee and act quickly. Becoming emotional about troll behavior is a time and energy sucker. It takes your immune system a long time to recover from an argument with someone who is never going to see it your way because they are paid to waste your time. If you keep this in mind, you’ll suffer less and kick butt more.

Some trolls are not paid-for but simply just occupied by an unhappy individual or a person that is in opposition to your purpose. This is just part of being on social media, and even the most successful movements, people, influencers, educators, celebrities have one thing in common: HATERS.

The truth is that you aren’t experiencing any level of success until you have some naysayers, some haters, and some critics. When you’re effective, you’re going to get attacked. Get used to it. Sometimes our team celebrates the attack because it means the work we are doing is working!!! Virtual victory dances and chest bumps are common around here. So if you’re getting shade, hate, parody accounts popping up, or anti-“fill in the blanks” on social this is a good thing. Just remember though, no matter what, don’t feed the trolls.


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