Troll v. : to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
In other words, a real pain in the a**. When you market your business online (and who doesn't these days), you open yourself up to a slew of personality types to tend with, but trolls are in a whole league of their own. They feed on creating drama, distrust, self-doubt and causing mayhem for you and your genuine audience. While I personally will never understand what fuels this type of behavior or how it is in any way rewarding, I have had to deal with my share of trolls over the years. Allow me to share my "been-there, done-that and now I'm writing the blog post" experience with you. Maybe you'll be better prepared (emotionally) than I was at the start of my business growth.
By nature, I am a people-pleaser, which has been a phenomenal trait to have in growing my business. Exceeding expectations is great for referrals! Truth be told, I want everyone to love me, (at least like me), respect me and root for me. I've always been this way, I guess it's classic Middle Child syndrome? As I've gotten older and more "seasoned", this is more of a want than a need, but still, I'm truly not happy when someone isn't happy with me, my products or my service. I take criticism to heart and soul search over any negative remarks to see where I could have done better and will do better next time. Knowing this, just imagine how I felt when I experienced my first troll. Spoiler alert, it was agonizing.
Long story short, this was about ten years ago, when I produced the first edition of the Get Down to Disness Daily Agenda Book and was just beginning to grow an online audience. I had no money, I had a full-time job, my husband and I were both working to keep our house (basically) and I had active lupus at that time which came with high medical bills. My plate was full, but naively I thought Disney people were inherently kind and would surely welcome my new product-and maybe I could make a few extra bucks to save for vacations. Nope.
I ran my first Facebook ad for the agenda book and anxiously awaited validation in the form of purchases or positive comments. I sold a couple (nothing to brag about-though at the time I was nervously excited to fill those orders) and a few great comments came in which I cannot recall. Know what I CAN recall...the one awful comment left by my first troll. It said (exactly):
"Just what the world needs, a paper planner that looks like a five year old designed it. If you knew anything about Disney, you would know you should have designed an app! Head back to the drawing board." Ouch.
I'm Irish, on both sides, so my emotions ran the gamut and a bunch of expletives flew around my house. But ultimately, I was deflated and really let those words affect me. I almost gave up. In fact, it wasn't until I received emails from the few customers I had sold books to (well, people that I didn't know personally) with very kind and positive feedback, that I felt like working on the "Disness" again. Crazy, right? I didn't even know this troll, they never bought my product and probably didn't even really take a look at the website, yet I almost allowed them to crush my goals and dreams. I'm over it now, but you know what I thought about when I learned the book was deemed Amazon's Choice for Disney planners? That troll's comment and how wrong they were.
When you experience a troll - and you will - you have two choices: take the low road or the high road. Always take the high road. It may be lonely up there at times, but the view is so much better! The troll is counting on you to take that low road and engage, feeding their slimy, troll appetite for destruction. Don't take the bait. Instead, here are some high road options you have:
This is where publishing Rules or Codes of Conduct come in very handy for social media groups. Setting those ground rules from the get go will cut down on the amount of trolling comments, but they don't eliminate them entirely. When you get that annoying comment, keep your cool, stay confident and remember: sticks and stones may break our bones, but trolls can never hurt us. :)