I’ve often heard it said that you know you’ve made it on social media when you get your first troll!

And I’m talking about internet trolls, not the kind that lives under bridges!

What is trolling?

There are different types of trolls, and they do it for different reasons, but in a nutshell, trolls are people who leave intentionally negative or offensive messages on social media, and they do it to get attention, upset someone, or to simply cause trouble.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University said: “Most people troll others for either revenge, for attention-seeking, for boredom, and for personal amusement.” (BBC Bitesize)

How does it affect us?

Unsurprisingly, this can lead people to be reluctant about being visible online or on social media – but what I found helpful was understanding why it has such an impact, and how we can change our mindset around it.

“Humans have a fundamental need to belong. Just as we have needs for food and water, we also have needs for positive and lasting relationships,” says C. Nathan DeWall, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky. “This need is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history and has all sorts of consequences for modern psychological processes.”

Basically, our need to feel like we belong and are accepted is challenged when someone reacts negatively to something we have written or posted online. And it can often feel a very personal attack from someone we don’t know.

How to deal with it…

The good news is that it is rarely about you. Often the person trolling you hasn’t targeted you because you’re you, it’s just because they can! And having that mindset shift is vital in how you deal with trolls. Or look at it a different way – having someone troll you on social media really means that you are doing something right you are putting out content that’s getting seen, liked, commented on and has engagement.

These are 5 practical steps you can do though:

  1. Don’t respond!
    This is exactly what they want – the key is to simply ignore what’s been said because they’re doing it for a reaction.
  1. Block the trolls’ accounts.
    You can block the trolls’ account so they are unable to see any of your future posts and can’t comment on them.
  1. Delete their comment.
    On the one hand, you can delete the comments that puts an end to it. But on the flip side, keeping the comments allows other people to see them, and comment on them. What may then happen is you will get people commenting and defending you, which will create loads of engagement, and will increase your visibility and your profile. Totally your call of course!
  1. Take some time out from social media.
    If you find it has affected you, then allow yourself time off from social media.
  1. If the abuse you receive makes you feel threatened or is otherwise unlawful – report it to the social media platform or someone in your organisation.

Raising your profile on social media does come with the chance that you will attract trolls but it is important to remember that trolling is not about you, it’s always about the person doing the trolling.

Being able to take a step back and detaching yourself is vital to how you respond – we cannot control what other people do, but we can control, is how we react to it. Only you can decide which of the steps above you take but whichever one you choose, is the right one for you! Just remember don’t feed the trolls …

If you have any questions or need help with your social media profile, email Lara or call us on 01903 530787.

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