I believe strongly in developing your personal brand, as such I have started a series of blogs dedicated to the topic.
So, you have developed your personal brand using advice from the blogosphere and other resources and you have begun putting your social network footprint on all the leading sites with positive return. Great! "But wait, Matt," you say, “I have this one person who always responds negatively to my post."
Awe yes, the Internet Troll. These people find joy, pleasure, or something that goes beyond all understanding of those of us who just want to be nice.
I will not try to explain, or even grasp for that matter, why these individual behave this way, leaving comments that cause your blood to boil and the urge to type out a 10,000 word comment in response to their foul words. What I will speak about is how these strange folks can affect your personal brand. An image you have worked hard to create to allow for prospective employees, professional connections, or even your parents to see, in order to get a grasp on the type of person you are digitally.
Option 1: Do Not Feed the Trolls
The first piece of advice, and the most common you will see, is to avoid responding to trolls. This is what they want. For some reason, outside the realm of normal interpersonal communications, these folks like, no love confrontation. Confrontation is what feeds their dark and twisted minds. Minds that are there to cause your blood to boil and feeds the essence of their life force. A life force, that you kind reader, will never understand. For this reason, when at all possible avoid responding to their comments.
However, what if, it is possible to use their powers against them in such a way that you may not only silence their ill-willed commentary, but also strengthen brand you? How is this possible? Stay with me, this is about to get deep.
Option 2: Respond with Your Personal Brand Voice
One of the most popular questions in interviews is "Can you provide me with an example when you dealt with a difficult person and how did you resolve it?" Here is where this gets deep, and very philosophical.
What if you were able to pick a troll comment that elicits a response. One where the troll questions your motives and calls you out in front of a group of your professional peers and turn this into one of those times you dealt with a difficult person. At best your peers will flock to your side in support. You will have people sharing your comment on 9gag. YouTube videos will be dedicated to your response. The evening news will show how your blog went from seven visits a day (including your own visits) to I've 10 million hits, and you will be a guest host on epic mealtime. Then after making an appearance on the David letterman show, you get a call personally from Mark Zuckerberg, saying "I saw how you handled a difficult situation and I would love for you to serve as an advisor to our patent lawyers, on how to handle difficult people."
Hey it could happen. Most likely it won't, but hey it could happen. What will likely happen, if handle properly is you will get a few likes, shares, and “well done” from you peers, a rebuttal from said troll and then you can revert back to option one.
The inspiration for this blog came from a recent troll attack I had on LinkedIn. I will paraphrase what happened.
I posted a link to my companies blog on a topic that simply stated the importance of making sure there is synergy (this would not be a blog about business if I didn't use synergy) between to departments. The troll then asked why I was only worried about the two departments relationship. Troll then went on to say this and that and ended with, "Does not make sense to my way of thinking. But what do I do!! I am just a simple guy"
I decided to take option two in this case. Not with the hopes that The Zuck would call me and book the first flight to Menlo Park, California, but to see if I can provide some relief to the other victims of this same troll who have tried to argue with him. Here was my response ( limited to 600 characters as I was responding on the mobile version of the sight). The name in this story has been changed to protect the identity of the troll.
"troll" I appreciate the color you add here. I am not sure how I could possibly answer your question as I am not worried only about the relationship between RM & BCM. On this day, I guess this was my chief concern, & I felt it was my duty to share it w/ others w/ the simple hope & dream that I may shine just a brief moment of light on the dark abyss that lurks around every corner. It brings me joy & hope, that my focus on this topic has raised questions. Questions that I hope 1 day, w/ proper reflection, research, & guidance I too will be able to answer. For I too “troll”, am but a simple man."
Next time you are trolled, ask yourself is this a case where I need to protect my personal brand- do not respond, or is this an opportunity to build on my personal brand? - take option 2.
Good luck cherished reader, and may the trolls be few and far between!