Tag Archives: Troll

Critics Vs. Trolls

Any of us who work in and around marketing understand that to a large extent consumers control our brands these days.

Troll in Trondheim

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ask any company that’s run into difficulty with its image due to a social media faux pas or to some bad consumer experience that’s gone viral and they’ll tell you.  I think that brands lay the groundwork – they shape the experience but ultimately consumers are the ones who refine that groundwork into the image the world at large has of a brand.

Given that, and given the need for brands to participate in the social world, they’re going to encounter people who have had either a less than optimal interaction with the brand or who just don’t like whatever it is that the brand is selling/doing.  Those people might use the social tools to let the world know about it since as we know it’s the less happy people who tend to lead brand discussions and not usually the staunch brand advocates (until they’re prompted somehow).  I think it’s important that the recipients of the criticism differentiate between the two main types of people who offer it up:  critics and trolls.  They need to be dealt with differently.

Critics tend to express their displeasure in a thought-out, rational way.  They usually have facts at their disposal and will listen both to other facts and promises to rectify whatever it is that irked them in the first place.  Think of a restaurant review – maybe they just didn’t like the food – that’s opinion.  Or maybe the food arrived cold and slowly – those are facts and problems which can be fixed.  Critics help brands make themselves better.

Trolls, on the other hand, tend to be deliberately inflammatory.  They are not trying to help fix anything – they just want people to respond, start flame wars, and get their jollies this way.  They usually lack facts, they usually direct personal attacks as part of their rants, and harassment and stupidity are the cesspools in which they live.

What does one do?  As we said the other day, you must respond to them both.  Don’t do so by attacking them.  Get your facts straight, point out opinions (which you respect) from facts, and accept that the critics might help you get better.  Trolls go away when no one takes their bait.  Good critics acknowledge improvement and it’s fair to reach out to them once you’ve fixed whatever was wrong.  Our constant focus on the customer means we need to allow them to help us get better even as we continue to shape the brand we want them to see.

Make sense?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Uncategorized

Cooking Trolls.

Our Foodie Friday Fun this week deals with cooking trolls.

English: Troll Federlandese

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course I don’t mean actually cooking them but then again those evil creatures don’t actually exist either.  Restaurants – and every other business – have to deal with negative reviews in social and other media.  Sometimes they’re warranted and sometimes they drift over into troll-dom.  Today’s screed is about how one restaurant owner handled a troll and hopefully we can all learn a little something from his method.

As the folks at ABC reported:

After a customer posted a review on UrbanSpoon — which has since been deleted — requesting that the servers show more skin, owner Daniel McCawley took matters into his own hands.

“It was brutish. I was upset. I’m a father of a 12-year-old girl and I’ve got five sisters,” McCawley said. “The way that women are treated is pretty personal as far as I’m concerned.”

He did show more skin by offering a potato skin special. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services.  Clever, non-confrontational, and it generated a ton of positive buzz for his business.  That’s the right way to handle this sort of thing.  Suing the trolls (if you can find out their real identities), forcing review sites to delete the negative reviews, or responding in kind with defamatory comments about the poster do nothing but make you appear small.  My lawyer friends would tell you that it also opens you up to a series of legal issues when you start making allegations.

We forget sometime that if we serve 10,000 people and make 99.99% of them happy, there is still one unhappy customer.  In fact, some people who post these reviews had a great experience but, like the idiot above, find something about which to complain.  You can ignore it (which is probably what I would have done in this case) or use it to do something smart to cook the troll (which is where the owner proves he’s smarter than me!) or choose to jump down into the mud with them.  Your call.

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints

Are You A Workplace Troll?

Anyone who runs a website or a blog is familiar with trolls.

By Åsmund Ødegård from Oslo/Ås, Norway (Hunderfossen Uploaded by Arsenikk)

You know them – the evil ones who pop up from underneath a log someplace, spew forth some usually unprintable comment or begin a flame war, and leave. You are then left to clean up the mess.  They’re not a new phenomenon:

Yet there is a certain race of men, that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius, who stand as sentinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving Ignorance and Envy the first notice of a prey

That was Dr. Samuel Johnson in 1750, long before the internet. But trolls aren’t the topic today. Instead, I want to talk about criticism itself, since in a strange way that is how trolls see themselves.  I happen to think criticism is important, and done well it can be enlightening.  Dr. Johnson believed in critics too:

You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.

That gets to the root of people like me (who read or watch films or eat out) criticizing works (books, films, restaurants) even though we can’t create those things (books, movies, dishes) on our own.  It’s possible to be educated enough in something and to have an informed, cogent opinions without actually being able to do the thing in question.  If not, why do we have sports columnists or book reviewers?

The thing about good criticism is that it’s not of the “you suck” troll variety.  It is specific and measures the work in question against other works and benchmark standards as well as against the reviewer’s own experience.  Not all criticism is negative either.  A review that says something was great is just as useless as the “it sucked” variety if it doesn’t explain the “why”.

So ask yourself this – are you a troll in the workplace when you offer criticism without the appropriate additional information?  Telling someone their work isn’t good without explaining why and helping to find a road to making it better makes you one in my book.  It’s just as bad to compliment someone’s work without explaining why it’s good.  How is the recipient of your nicety to replicate what made it great if they don’t know what that was?

Criticism is an integral part of daily life.  The thing I try to remember is to be a critic and not a troll.  Are you with me on that?

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