A friend of mine is a local real estate agent and recently he told me about how internet trolls had taken to his company’s Facebook page. The fake ‘customers’ – either acting in support of a competitor or a disgruntled former employee had posted nasty reviews in a bid to bring down the reputation of his business.

Unfortunately, an online presence for your business or brand can occasionally come with internet trolls or negative comments.

The most challenging trait of trolls is that they often enter into this behaviour, not seeking a resolution, but rather with intent to start a no-win war.

Due to the accessibility of the internet, trolls can be relentless and unforgiving.

If you are experiencing a disruptive online environment due to trolls then these following tips can help.

Time is your biggest enemy

The longer you leave a damaging comment without a response or recognition it gives the trolls the power. Remember trolls travel in packs, so where one is lurking there could be others waiting to pounce.  Whether the complaints are genuine or malicious, make sure to respond quickly and take charge of the situation.

Be strategic

If the comment has the potential to seriously damage the business, play it smart by shifting the conversation away from public eyes. This is best done by privately messaging the person or politely asking them to redirect their complaints to an email address or a number they can call and chat in person, e.g. customer support. This simple tip has the ability to save your business from a tricky online situation.

Use humour

If you can use a funny metaphor to respond to a negative comment as well as recognise the issues they raise and even apologise for it if it’s warranted, that could work.

Stick to the facts

Avoid exaggeration, instead offer facts in response to negative online comments. When facts are provided, it successfully stops the wrong information circulating and rumours spreading by one or more trolls.

Don’t let yourself sink to the level of the trolls

In some cases it is difficult to stay professional when reading some of the more personal and provoking messages from trolls. When you are tempted to throw it back, just remember that it will do you and your business more harm than good. Be the bigger person and let your clever responses do the talking. This will make you more likeable and in some cases even strengthen the publics’ perception of your business.

Be active in your online community

The best way to beat the trolls is to know what is going on online and keep a watch on conversations within your social media community. Use a radar approach and continually scan the online environment for any comments about your business. This may include typing your name or your business name into Trip Advisor, Twitter or even Google.  It helps if there are much more positive social media footprints of you and your business to water down any negative ones.