Why trolls are good for business

Why trolls are good for business

In my first week at Marketing Eye, Mellissah Smith ignited a fire.

In June, my boss went viral with her blog ‘Why married women are more successful’, which has received over 72,000 views to date.

I watched on as Mellissah was bombarded with virtual high fives, phone calls and business opportunities that grew from that seemingly simple piece.

Then the trolls emerged armed with insults, threats and attempted personal attacks (rendered invalid as the attackers did not, in fact know Mellissah personally). Commenters spent hours punching out long-winded rebuttals to the article that were so heated they had lost sense towards the end. It was chaotic, and very unpleasant to witness.

While my first instinct was to shut the piece down, Mellissah watched nonchalantly as her work was shared thousands of times over across the net. This is when I learned: an article cannot go viral without negative comments; it takes raising a contentious issue (like married vs. single women) and letting it explode through detractors feverishly commenting and sharing it; in fact, trolls are good for business.

Since that ‘married’ post, Mellissah averages 1,000 – 10,000 views on her LinkedIn posts per week.

How do you generate business from negative comments?

Monitoring: use the award-winning free tool Hootsuite to give you a clear picture of how people are responding to your posts. iTunes and Google Play are mobile apps suitable if you manage several pages and often work on the fly.

Planning: define an in-house policy of how comments – good and bad - are dealt with so that your followers aren’t receiving mixed messages.

Curating: by all means stick to your guns, however if there is content that will offend others, or does not address the issue at hand, remove it e.g. “I don’t agree with your view at all” is harmless whereas “You’re a waste of %$@! space” is not conducive to your mission.

Responding: I’m sure a few LinkedIn users received a big shock when the CEO jumped online to personally address their questions. If your work elicits a big response, use it as an opportunity to engage with your audience.

Repeating: Don’t write controversially just for the sake of going viral. Have the gumption to share your unique view, unabashed by the negative it may attract.

If your posts garner comments, you’ve lit a spark within your readership; now your role is to contain the fire, and use it to generate business.

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comment ( 1 )
  • Georgie
    29 Aug 2014

    Yes! Often times the hardships that come with businesses are poor engagement with their followers. Followers look for companies that take initiative and a lead on the companies' own values. Some followers become more passionate about a company if it stands strongly behind its belief or mission statement. I don't think it's necessarily the trolls that bring attention to the business, but rather the guts to post a controversial matter. People like to read and respond to an open discussion that is on-going and relevant, rather than a watered down article that plays it safe with its viewers.