Whatever stage you are at in your business, if you blog, tweet or post online you will have probably come up against a troll. A troll is someone who persistently seeks to negatively oppose you through mindless abuse, heckling or threats of violence. These keyboard warriors seek to undermine you from the safety of their ‘bedrooms’ and offer opinions and comments that they would never have the courage to say to you face-to-face.

However, you don’t have to take it lying down! Here are my top 7 tips for dealing with trolls and how you can take back the power and gain the upper hand:

Take Charge – Establish a Clear ‘No Trolls’ Policy

When dealing with trolls the first step is to establish a policy for user comments. Your policy should clearly state what kind of comments are allowed and should be clearly outlined on your website and social media accounts. The policy should define what will happen to those who infringe your rules – i.e. their comments will be deleted, they will be banned from the community. If you want examples of great policies, take a look at what the Content Marketing Institute or Huffington Post have put together.

Ignore Them

Trolls thrive on attention – they want to see you reacting to their behaviour. Their aim is to make you angry, frustrated or upset. Whilst it might be difficult to do (and easy to say), simply ignoring a troll could be your best tactic because when they don’t get a response, they’ll most likely get bored and disappear.

Employ a Moderator or Admin

If you’re having a troll problem, moderation can go a long way toward keeping the issue at bay. If you are a serial poster or blogger, it can be challenging to keep on top of the trolls by yourself. Putting together a team of moderators or admins who can vet and deal with comments that go against your guidelines will create a positive, welcoming environment and keep those trolls in their box.

If you don’t have the finances to employ people to help you with this, there are tools out there for every type of platform:

  • Facebook has comment moderation tools that you can apply to your page.
  • YouTube has options for adding comment moderators or turning comments on and off, and live chat/comment filters.
  • Twitter and Instagram both have options to report abusive behaviour.
  • Even WordPress, has comment management tools if trolls are attacking your blog.

Unmask your troll

 rolls, in general, are cowards and thrive on anonymity, but aren’t often too careful about guarding it. A little investigation will usually turn up something that makes you appreciate how pointless their comments are and how uninformed they happen to be. The information you uncover needn’t include names, addresses or photographs – just enough to turn your anger into pity. For example, someone who constantly criticises your writing style could have a truly appalling blog.

Build a Unified Community

If you have a loyal online community you may not have to worry much about trolls since the members will monitor themselves. Moreover, when a troll does show themselves in your community, your members will usually respond on your behalf and drive the trolls away. However, be sure to keep an eye on the situation as sometimes your allies can take things too far in your defence and you may need to step in!

Call them Out on their Comments

Sometimes, ignoring a troll isn’t feasible. Thankfully, a troll doesn’t set out to make a logical argument or reason with facts – they just enjoy winding you up. If you can, calmly ask them to back up what they’re saying, ninety-nine times out of one hundred, they’ll have nothing to counter you with, and will disappear fast once you challenge their “argument.”

Kill them with Kindness or Respond with Humour

A troll lives for your reaction. They have created their posts to be as inflammatory as possible with the hope of generating an angry response or fuelling an argument. If you ignore the content of their comment and instead respond with kindness, they won’t know how to respond. I usually try something like this; ‘Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post, I really appreciate your feedback.’

Another way to stop a troll in their tracks is to respond with humour – the pop star James Blunt is a master of this. His self-depreciation ensures that his trolls have no comeback. He’s definitely worth a view.

It is a sad fact of life in our online age, you will at some point come up against someone who takes active pleasure in belittling you. Some people take it as a compliment, a show that they are expanding their reach or being recognised in their field, whilst others find the whole thing a painful and disruptive experience.

By taking control and implementing these seven tips, you can ensure they think twice about bothering you again!