When individuals are protected behind their computer screens some people resort to communicating with other’s online in ways that they’d never do in a face to face situation. Much like “real life” bullies, these online bullies and trolls need to get a rise out of their victims if they are to enjoy the interaction.

Most food truck owners spend plenty of time online; unfortunately do to this fact, many have had to deal with trolls and anonymous people whom attack them or their food truck brand. Their goal? To make you angry and emotional enough to get a rise out of you.

Dealing With Trolls And Online Bullies

So how do you avoid blowing up publicly? The way you handle them is what will make the difference between taking your focus completely away from doing your job and them feeling like they’ve failed at their attempt at trolling.

While it’s tempting to tell them where to shove their comments, it’s important to remember that in any controversy or crisis your reputation is on the line and your values are in the spotlight. The worst thing you can do is pretend it’s not happening because that lets others form a false opinion about you or your company.

The second biggest mistake you can make is to respond to poison with poison. That allows the trolls to set the ground rules and lowers you to their level.

What you must do is respond quickly, factually and empathetically. Show the world that you take every criticism or concern seriously. Even unwarranted ones. Treat all feedback with respect, style and grace, no matter how hostile and aggressive it might be.

If you handle the assault quickly and graciously you’ll be able to walk away with your food truck brand, your business and most importantly your reputation intact. And you might even win some new customers.

Tips to deal with online bullies and trolls:

  • Don’t add fuel to the fire: It’s important to defend your position. But, engaging in a war of words will only escalate the situation. The number one rule when responding to criticism is to stay positive. Be respectful and the conversation will self-regulate. Social media communities don’t readily tolerate arrogance and disrespect from either party in a dispute. That’s why posting inflammatory comments often results in that community censuring the aggressor and supporting the victim. And that just makes the aggressor look worse. It’s difficult to sit on your hands when you’re under attack. But if your end game is to protect your reputation take it on the chin and resist engaging the protagonists. Let your critics play in the gutter. It’s better to be silent than sink to their level.
  • Have a crisis plan, and stick to it: If you’re prepared with the right crisis plan, a social media firestorm can be transformed from a negative situation into a positive brand opportunity. If your competitors are foolish enough to post about you online (especially when they include links to your site), let them. It’s an opportunity to spread your brand name in a positive light to an even broader audience of potential customers.
  • Change the topic: The best way to get someone over talking about a negative topic is to move on to a positive one. Get back to doing what you do best. While you’re getting on with business, your rivals probably aren’t.

RELATED: Crisis Management Strategies For Mobile Food Vendors

The Bottom Line

Remember that a person who seems like a troll is actually the one suffering in some way. They are trying to distract themselves and make themselves feel better by taking it out on you. If you can, try to have a good laugh and think about how sad it is that people actually feel the need to insult complete strangers on the internet.

How have you handled online bullies and trolls? Share your experience in the comment section below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter