Any individual who spends a significant amount of time online has been witness to an act of trolling. What used to be limited to forums and comment boards is now a prolific activity throughout online space, especially on social platforms.
Organizations as well as individuals on social media need to be aware of this, and know the consequences of engaging these individuals. Recently, a somewhat off -color (you have been cautioned) case study has played out that illustrates the harm one can do to your own online image by responding to trolling.
Popular internet humor site http://www.theoatmeal.com produces memes, comics, and other imagery that are spread throughout the internet. Until I became aware of this particular incident, I had never visited The Oatmeal, however the owners material was easily recognized as works I had seen shared, tweeted, pinned, and otherwise spread throughout the web. Other sites will also reproduce this material, sometimes failing to credit the original author.
Funnyjunk.com is one of those sites. Following a comment by The Oatmeal on their use of his material, Funny Junk threatened a lawsuit.
You can read about that and The Oatmeal’s response here, in addition to this particular page, he has documented the rest of the incident in other posts.
Well, The Oatmeal’s post led to Funny Junk’s lawyer suing him for defamation. This was a result of the massive amount of angry trolling emails, letters, and other contact the lawyer received.
Now this is where today’s lesson comes in- when the trolls of the internet attack you in any number, don’t, I repeat DO NOT engage them. Ignore them.
This article illustrates how you look when you respond in kind.
By responding, this lawyer has absolutely destroyed whatever public image he once had.
So DON’T do it.
And if you do, then the internet will enjoy laughing at you.
Anyone who has ever tried to convince an organization to use social tools knows of the challenges that can follow. From questioning the ROI, to struggles over strategy and the direction to take a social presence, starting down the social path can lead to many frustrating situations.
The underlying problem behind all of this, is not an organizations desire to adapt a new tool, but rather their comfort level with a whole new style of communication. Some would call this communication revolutionary, to myself it is far more natural than the decades of barriers companies have constructed between their audience and themselves.
When selling this transition, here are some pointers to help you out.
The internet and new media have opened up limitless channels for organizations to spew forth promotional information hoping to hit a relevant public. Talk is constantly being made of how new media is revolutionizing communications. But how many organizations are really allowing for innovation in this regard? A vast number of companies continue to blast their messages out onto every available channel, hoping for a few conversions.
The benefit of social media is the two-way communication channel it opens up. Organizations need to listen and interact with their audiences through these tools, and in reality each medium they use. Social media isn’t just a new tool, it is a change in how people communicate. It has put power back to the customer. After decades of companies expressing their desire to listen to consumers by outsourcing call centers, providing 1-800 numbers and generic support desk email addresses, there are now tools that give companies the opportunity to really listen and act. After years of red tape, new media gives consumers a new avenue to pursue for help, concerns and other important feedback.
The challenge is for companies to adapt to, and embrace communication as a 2 way process. Organizations must listen, and then act, demonstrating that they do in fact care about what their public is thinking. As opposed to monitoring the conversation solely to report a set of statistics about engagement to justify their online presence.
20 years ago, the internet at work was solely the realm of IT experts. With today’s constantly connected life and the increased use of social platforms to communicate with an organization’s audience, PR and communications professionals need access and influence over technological matters.
As “social media” has evolved over the past decade, I have seen it placed under IT, Marketing and PR. Early on, nobody seemed to know where to put it. Luckily it has largely become part of an organizations Marketing or PR departments, if not given its own place. Where social communications are placed does have a critical impact on their usage, but that is another subject altogether.
Even with social media’s shift to communications, in many organizations, IT still plays a large role. This article gives suggestions on overcoming those issues.
In addition to those suggestions, it is becoming increasingly important for communicators to understand the use of new tools. This may begin to include basic IT functions, particularly in smaller organizations. However, the need for PR experts remains. As technology continues to find its way into every corner of our lives, it is important that communicators have access to all of these tools.
As the internet and social media have changed the way we communicate, it has become increasingly important for organizations to be active and involved online. Without content, this is difficult. PR practitioners must be able to assist in the development of content as part of a larger communications plan.
Through quality content, effectively disseminated online, any organization can become a go-to source for information relevant to their field. As your organization produces useful content, it will be easier for people to find you online and you will have effective material for growing your community on social sites.
Check out this article for some great tips on producing effective content.