One beautiful thing about social media is that it allows customers to instantly interact with their favorite brands. Unfortunately, that easy-access also means that those brands are open to becoming the target of trolls: angry users hurling inflammatory language or even threats across social.

All savvy social media marketers should understand how to distinguish feedback from trolling, so in this week’s #SproutChat we’ve covered best practices for handling internet trolls and how a plan of action is vital for any brand.

Don’t Feed the Trolls, but Do Ask Questions

It’s critical not to stoop to their level. Responding angrily to your audience or being heavy on the snark is just adding fuel to the fire. It may not be worth your time and effort to go toe to toe with an angry customer. Instead take the time to figure out the context of their complaint in order to help them.

Keep Track of Negative Comments

By keeping track of negative comments you’re more easily able to note patterns. This means that if the same users are providing negative feedback, you’ll have insight into their conversation history to inform your next moves.

Monitoring for mentions of your brand is also vital for staying on top of any social crisis.

Loop Others In

Occasionally you’ll need to escalate issues to other team members, as you won’t always know the answer. Situations can quickly turn into crises, so be sure to loop in appropriate team members in order to keep issues from escalating.

Inflammatory Language Not Welcome

Not every social network allows for comments to be deleted, but when possible take the precaution to do so. It’s important to act if there are posts containing personal information or inflammatory, threatening language.

Have an Action Plan in Place

When it comes to responding to trolls or negative feedback, just make sure that all team members are on the same page. This is particularly important if you have a larger social team. Consistency will help prevent growing social crises and ensure that everyone knows protocol and works toward one goal.

Be sure to join #SproutChat next Wednesday, Aug. 16, with our special guest, Sprout All Star Jasmin Bollman of, to chat about Social ROI. Until then, check out our Facebook community to connect with folks in the industry.