14 Oct, 2017
A little while back, we had a problem with a troll leaving bad reviews on our Facebook and Google business pages. Unfortunately, there was little we could do about it but eventually it stopped.
We know that writing this could open us up to being trolled again but we want to share our experiences to help others.
Sorry, there is no easy way to stop a troll. We know you do not want to hear this right now as you're probably fearing the worst and feel completely helpless. The truth is, your troll is not in a good place at the moment either.
We know you most likely don't care much for your troll right now but if you're going to stop it then you need to put yourself in their shoes and not yours.
You can report your negative reviews but we found the support was just not there when we needed it.
Facebook did remove the comments and block their profiles but this only prompted the troll to create other fake accounts and leave more negative reviews. We now have a situation where the comments have been deleted by Facebook but the average star rating is down. Our advice is to not report them or remove them for a while. They are acting on impulse and blocking them will only stoke the fire. Let them think they have won and then report them later when they have moved on.
Google have done nothing to help us and the review still remains public. We have reported it with no help or response whatsoever from Google which is very disappointing.
If you're getting trolled on another platform we would love to help you and hear about your experiences. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with any information.
A troll will typically use fake profiles to create one star reviews with false information. Like in our case, a troll is motivated by doing harm to someone personally and not simply notifying you, or others, of bad service. Their mission is to make your business look bad so you suffer the same pain they feel. Before you can try to stop it, you need to find out who it could be so you can either help them or show them their mistakes.
Please don't mistake a troll for a genuine bad review.
Even the best businesses with the best intentions will get negative reviews. Like us, you can be honest and open but someone, someday, will just not be the right fit for your business. All you can do in this case is reply to the bad review and try your best to resolve it. Most bad reviews start from miscommunication. They may have booked the cheapest hotel room in your town but expected 4 star service. In this case you need to be honest and open about the situation.
They will soon get bored and move on. Most people can spot a troll review from a genuine one if you can manage to stay calm. Just work on getting that star rating close to 5 even if it's just a little lower. We're all human and cannot please everyone.
We spent ages working out who we could possibly have upset enough to do this. However, in hindsight, we would have spent a lot less time worrying and could have ruled out so many suspects early on. Lets rule out the obvious here...
They will not be a competitor. If you strongly suspect it is then check out more of their competitors to see if they have had similar bad reviews. Most decent businesses would not even consider this approach and if they did, they will not be in business for very long. Businesses are usually spending their spare time concentrating on their own success rather than your downfall. If it is a competitor, it will not be for business reasons and instead for the same reasons anyone else would.
So who is it? The vast majority of posts we have read identify the same type of person which also fits our profile and most likely yours too.
Unfortunately, your troll is most likely suffering from a mental illness. What your troll needs is support. They could be suffering from depression and looking for a place to vent their anger and frustration. This means their trolling will be personal, which we soon found out.
We could not work out who we had upset enough to even consider this. The potential list was very short but we kept overlooking one person. All the events started to piece together. For obvious reasons we will not say enough to identify the person but is did help us in sending subliminal messages to them indirectly.
Our game was to highlight that Unumbox is a team of people and not one person. Attacking that one person for a misunderstanding and lack of communication was having a negative impact on all staff. We cannot be sure if the message got back but trolling stopped, suggesting it did.
The likelihood is that your troll is connected to you via another person. They will not have the courage to talk to you about their pains and disagreements and have most likely got the wrong end of the stick listening to rumours and not fact. Their mental illness will prevent them from seeing reason until someone highlights the issues to them in person and not just on the internet. In their minds, you're the reason for all their troubles.
"You cannot stop a troll. You can only starve them"
At first, the comments suggested that we had not responded to their enquiries. They were not clients and we had no record of them contacting us at all. We replied with honesty and told them this fact. What was odd was that they used profile pictures of a young man who is not our target demographic. This strongly suggested they were using fake profiles.
The best you can do is reply professionally to them and not aggravate matters. Leaving no reply is not good for potential clients. Leaving a reply will highlight the situation as most people can spot a genuine review from one that is not.
In short, do not reply to the troll. Reply to anyone who may read the review to reassure them of the situation.
In truth, we had never really taken care of our reviews. Other than asking a few friends to review us when setting up our business, we have never prompted people to leave reviews for us. If your services are B2B you will probably relate to this. However, now is the time to change that!
Reviews are important before and after an incident like this. The more reviews you have, the less damage a negative one will have. We know this all too well and yet never have practiced what we preached.
I know it's difficult if, like us, you may deal with a few larger clients under NDAs compared to other companies that may deal with many hundreds of consumers in a day. You are going to need to work at this though. Try providing an incentive to encourage people to leave honest reviews. The reality is that most business owners do not have time and, unless they do it there and then, they will forget.
I hope this article helps you with your troll and if you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com