For years, your company Facebook page has been running smoothly – you’ve been posting great content, you have plenty of followers – and then all of a sudden a stream of hateful posts are made by an anonymous troll. This cowardly individual’s intention is to sour the conversation on your page and damage the reputation of your company. What do you do?

The rules have been broken but no-one will really want to know. Facebook might take several days to respond and the Police won’t be that interested if you can’t identify the troll and no-one has been physically harmed. To succeed with a claim of defamation, harassment or breach of privacy, you’ll need to find the troll, which may be obvious from their comments or available through the IP address used to post them. Unfortunately tracking an IP address can be a long and expensive exercise.

From our experience, it is not uncommon for trolls to take aim at company Facebook pages. Sometimes it is hard to work out why anyone would do this. These people may simply be haters wanting a fight. They could be an aggrieved ex-employee, a vengeful ex-partner or even the guy who you accidentally cut off on your way to work that morning.

The first rule with any troll is to not care too much and certainly not to get into a fight. Having said that, pause and make sure you are doing the right thing by your customers and contacts. Just because it’s anonymous doesn’t always mean the person doesn’t have something valid to say about their experience with you. If you think there is a genuine problem, see if you can find out who they are and ask them to contact you to discuss it.

The next rule is not to let hateful anonymous comments interfere with your business. Anonymous Facebook haters are very easy to spot and the garbage they post will usually provoke positive responses from your Facebook followers. You also have the option of removing their posts – a good move if the posts are offensive to you, your staff or your company.

If you are worried about a potential troll on your Facebook page, you can tighten your security so that visitor posts have to be pre-approved. This stunts conversation to some degree and restricts the potential for positive feedback to your page but it may be worth applying as a temporary measure. There is no way to pre-approve comments: you can remove them, hide them or craft a response which reflects your business’ values.

You can also report any post to Facebook and you can block the troll from your Facebook page. You may need to block them a number of times before the person stops creating new profiles.

At Priority Communications, we understand the power of social media in encouraging great two-way communication between businesses and the people they care about. It’s not always plain sailing but certainly worth the effort. If you need a hand managing your social media accounts, give us a call, we’d love to help.