trolls on social media square nonprofits

The following is an excerpt from Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits.

The rapid rise of mobile and social media has directly correlated with a rise in Internet trolls—individuals whose sole purpose is to rant, vent, and incite discord. Most users of mobile and social media have come to recognize a troll and ignore rather engage them. More than often than not, the comments of trolls are relegated to the “crazy” category by your followers. Ironically, when considering the much buzzed about best practice of using mobile and social media to listen to your communities, quite often the most active personalities in your communities are those you should listen to the least. On mobile and social media, it’s a best practice to listen selectively and give little credence to those who only post angry rants.

Those nonprofits whose mission and programs are related to controversial issues have to deal with trolls on daily basis. But for most nonprofits, vitriolic trolls are rare. If your nonprofit experiences trolls regularly, by now you’ve likely come to realize that more often than not your communities will come to your defense and that there’s little need for your nonprofit to get involved and waste time in an argument with a troll. Sometimes a response to a troll is called for. Your nonprofit should confidently reiterate your opinion with a link to an additional resource backing up your claim, but going back and forth with a troll is a complete waste of time and mental energy. If the troll attacks others or is just blatantly disrespectful or rude, don’t hesitate to block or delete the troll from your community—except in the case where your mission is advocating free speech. But even then attacking others and using foul language is grounds for removal. Once they’re blocked, you’ll never hear from these trolls again. They are boosted by anonymity and will very rarely, if ever, follow up with a complaint via email or phone that they were blocked from your community. Allowing trolls to rant inside your communities can quickly contaminate your community and turn off your followers. Trolls should be dealt with swiftly and without regret.

Followers who disagree with your position, but do so respectfully, should be addressed and allowed to continue to be a part of your community. Initially, it’s wise to practice impulse control and allow your community members to back up your position. Then post a simple statement recognizing their input, but again, stand firm in your convictions. Not everyone is going to agree with your position, and your nonprofit should not be afraid of, or give too much power to, those who disagree. That’s the reality of the social web. Millions of opinions are now public, and some people more than others relish expressing their opinions online, even negative ones. However, it’s important to focus on the fact that for every negative comment your nonprofit receives, your nonprofit likely has multiple likes and positive comments.

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

mobile for good look insideBased on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.