3 Options for Dealing With Internet Trolls

The sarcastic founder of a product company details his strategy for dealing with these nasty commenters on Facebook.

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By Adam Callinan

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Although my company BottleKeeper has had a lot of success using Facebook's video ad platform, there is one area within the world of online advertising that has been quite a learning experience: trolls.

Trolls are the people that hide behind their computer screens and spew negativity throughout the Internet, or in this case, in the comment section of your online ads. So, do you let the comments remain and leave them alone, do interact with the trolls through via the comments or do you just delete them?

It's important to note that I can only speak of our direct experience in how we interact with and manage our brand, which is riddled with sarcasm, is quite fun and certainly allows us to be a bit more on -- or over -- the line with our trolls. You'll need to determine your best course of action based on your brand.

Related: Are Online Comment Trolls Actually 'Psychopathic Sadists'?

So, with respect to those whom would never say to your face the wonderful things that they'll type, all while lurking in the dark loneliness under a bridge and feeding on puppies, we do a little bit of everything, and here's why.

1. Let them stay

You know what's misleading? When a consumer sees your ad, and subsequent comment feed, and realizes that 100 percent of the comments are positive. Really? There isn't one person out of the thousands -- or hundreds of thousands -- of people that have been served this ad that disagree with its content or message? If so, you're clearly deleting them, which will naturally turn consumers off because, well, they're not stupid.

You'll be much better off letting some remain. Yes, you can pick and choose which ones get to live or die, but you must let the ratio be realistic -- read on for more instruction.

2. Interact

This particular option is our absolute favorite and the most effective. There's nothing better than showing the world -- or at least your ad audience -- that you'll stand up for you company and defend your brand. If someone has something negative to say, challenge them but do it in a proactive and non-emotional way. I repeat, do not get emotional. I realize this can be hard when you and your company are being attacked, but I assure you, there's no better way to win than to objectively challenge your opponents -- the majority of the time they won't even respond -- which means that you win!

Related: 4 Cool-Headed Strategies for Responding to Negative Comments Online

As I mentioned before, we use healthy fun and heavy sarcasm to combat those that troll our ads -- and we lay it on thick. The benefit of the interactions that result is put on display for all and we've found that, when this is done effectively, other onlookers get involved in the defense of your position -- which often creates a sense of community and even new customers that may not have been previously interested in your product.

For a better understanding of what I mean and for real examples, peruse the comment section of this recent video ad.

3. Delete them

As mentioned in the first point, there are circumstances when it just makes sense to delete the comment. We delete them when it's clear that we're not going to be able to get into an effective dialogue with the particular puppy eater -- typically as a result of them being overly profane or disgusting. Despite the snarky attitude of BottleKeeper and the brand, bantering with some yahoo that's going to drop an F bomb three times in each sentence isn't good for anyone.

Also important to note: If you're going to let a negative comment live without an interaction from you, other trolls will often add in to the commentary with their own negativity, and before you know it, the feel of your ad is spiraling out of control. The moral of the story is you must closely monitor the comments and interaction, and don't wait to act.

When given the opportunity, interaction is absolutely the preferred method as it shows people that you're engaged and participating. We've found that trolls don't often think about the fact that there's someone on the other side of that comment because they're used to posting negativity that never gets questioned or tested. When they see that you're paying attention, more often than not, their tones change, the conversation shifts and you've created a positive interaction for all to enjoy.

Related: Fighting Trolls, Spammers and Troublemakers Online

Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

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