As I spend more time working on Social Media projects at work and at home, one of the most recurring topics is “Trolls.”
It’s a broad topic. Trolls can be anything from vociferous-but-reasonable dissenters to people with an agenda of annoyance and an axe to grind. Each species merits a different reaction.
The Air Force created a terrific Web Posting Response Assessment – effectively, a Troll Taxonomy Tool & Decision Tree – to aid in selecting a response. (Here is a PDF of a recent version, for your reference.)
It’s a great tool – it distinguishes between several layers of negative responses. There are true “Trolls” (negative purely for the sake of it), but also responders are who “Misguided” (negative based on incorrect info) and “Unhappy” (negative based on a corresponding negative experience).
This simple, one-page chart has been a sanity-saver on a few projects in 2009. It forced my teams to stop a cycle of second-guessing – evaluate, respond if-needed, and move on.
That’s why my thoughts went to the assessment last night, when I received a comment notification on one of my videos. The comment was to the effect of “this dude can’t hit a note.”
I tried to objectively place my responder in the tree. Clearly he had a negative experience listening to me. He’s also misguided, because I’m definitely hitting many notes quite well in the video, and his comment wasn’t subjective.
Ultimately, though, he’s just a garden-variety Troll – spreading negativity for some intangible reason it’s impossible to dispute. So, per the Air Force, I’ll monitor it, but won’t respond.
That’s the success of more than my crack Air Force training. Three or more years ago that sort of comment would cripple my confidence. I would probably apologize for his negative experience without ever assuming he was misguided. And I would stop playing the song, probably for months!
Yesterday, he just made me smile. These days I’m a lot bigger than one or ten trollish comments. I sound how I want to sound; if I didn’t, I would have never posted the video.
That’s the same confidence you must have in your brand to make good use of the Air Force tool. If you’re unsure of the product or service you’re offering, every dissent turns into a potentially reasonable complaint.
From there, it’s all apologies, and you’ll be overrun with Trolls.