By Dan Gingiss

Source: Forbes

Conventional wisdom says that companies should respond to everyone on social media. When people take the time to compliment a company, they want to be acknowledged; when they have a complaint, they want empathy and a resolution; and when they have a question, they just want the answer.

But some people who tag companies on Twitter or post on a company’s Facebook page aren’t looking for any of those things. Instead, they are just looking for attention. These odious beasts are often referred to as trolls.

Trolls are nasty creatures that cause sleepless nights for social media marketers and customer service agents alike. Trolls are typically in search of an audience through incessantly negative banter about a brand. This can often be confusing for social customer care agents because they are used to people having problems that they try to solve. But trolls don’t really want resolution; they want attention. Often their “complaint” is so amorphous that it isn’t solvable anyway, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the company (in which case it also qualifies as spam).

The best way to deal with a troll is to respectfully answer the first post by offering to help. It’s also a good idea to offer to take the discussion offline so the person can rant privately instead of publicly. But here’s the interesting part: Because trolls generally aren’t looking for resolution, they are often surprised that the brand has engaged them at all. Many times, this will cause them to leave and go pick on another company.

If, however, the person remains persistent after a couple of back-and-forths, it’s okay to ignore and/or block the person from future communications.

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