Are You A Troll

Story of a Facebook Group Troll

Troll © Doug Wildman

Troll © Doug Wildman

I was recently invited to join a copywriter’s group on Facebook. Even though I am more a designer than a copywriter, I was honored to be invited. Besides, what better way to make some good relationships with copywriters who may someday need to collaborate with a designer! In case you missed it, I have written before on forming relationships with social media. This is why they call it “social” media. The group turned out to be quite active, and I even joined in a few conversations in which I had an interest. All went well until…

The Troll Reared His Ugly Head

The idea behind this particular group was for up and coming copywriters to get together and toss ideas around to each other, to critique one another’s work when asked to do so, to mentor one another and to just hang out and talk copywriting. The leader/founder of the group would moderate, too. The group quickly began to grow and we had some really good conversations going. The first sign of trouble began when someone asked about discounting their services to get more business down the road. All of a sudden, in all caps, comes this reply,“NO DISCOUNTS!”

It was the troll. In as bombastic, know-it-all a tone as he could possibly muster, he went on to rant about how in his 40+ years of copywriting, he never once gave a discount, blah, blah, blah. Never give discounts? Ever? Really? Not even to your loved ones, a close personal friend, or your place of worship? I have a word for someone like that and it rhymes with gas pole. OK, admittedly, you can forgive a passionate post. But oh no, our troll really wanted to crawl out from under the bridge. He just happened to have an e-book, which he didn’t mind sharing with the group, to tell all about how to never give discounts and other marketing gems. Naturally, if you were stupid enough to try to download his e-book, you would be on his e-mail list and would no doubt get bombarded with sales messages.

Please, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with marketing. Capturing email addresses with free giveaways is a perfectly fine way to expand your database. However, this was one of his first posts and already he was trying to sell (indirectly) something to the group. He had formed no relationships with anyone. He touted himself as if he’s heaven’s gift to copywriting and he was not sharing anything of value to anyone. Then he tried to get you to download his “gift” so that he could start selling his services to you. Uncool.

Hold Your Tongue

I must admit, I almost sent an angry response when I saw what was going on. However, I wisely held back. The last thing you want to do is get into a shouting match with someone in a group, no matter how bad they deserve it. This only lowers you to their level. Now, no one is telling you to be a doormat. However, even if someone insults you in a post, you’re better off taking a deep breath, stepping away from the computer, and thinking about how you are going to respond. Really think it through, too. Don’t just fire off the first thing that comes to mind. You’re only going to start a flame war which will probably get you and the person who started it thrown out by the moderator.

The Hidden Troll

Our troll, unbeknownst to me, had been contacting others in the group who had started posts. Anyone who had a legitimate copywriting or marketing concern and who posted to the group looking for advice had become his fair game. He would send them direct messages trying to sell them his services! OK, aside from the fact that is just wrong from the standpoint and spirit of the group, can you see how screwed up this is? First off, we have a group of copywriter newbies. We are in this group because we might not have the money to hire a mentor. Now here comes troll boy trying to sell his services (at no discount!) to members of the group. By sending them direct messages, he can lurk and hide under his bridge undetected to prey upon the poor unsuspecting goats trying to get across to the meadow of plenty. Low life.

The Return of the Troll

The moderator of the group posted about an article he enjoyed that taught about time management. The troll, in his didactic tone, shot back, “There’s no such thing as “Time Management! There is Self-Management. We all have the same 86,400 moments in a day…” ad nauseam. I almost burst a blood vessel when I read that. I’m sorry, but the term “time management” is used by everyone except troll lad. It gets worse, though. Another member of the group said something to the effect of “semantics aside…” Apparently this sent the troll into a rage. He apparently posted a nasty comment that it was not semantics, blah blah blah. I had already left the conversation before this point, since I was following my own advice and didn’t want to shoot off something I would regret. However, the moderator censored the comment and sent a private message to the troll to try to calm him down.

The End of the Troll?

Calm him, it did not. He spat out a post to the group in a mean-spirited voice about how the moderator had censored him and he was not to be censored! Therefore, he would leave the group. Hooray! I’ll be honest. Even though I had followed my own advice and had not responded to the asinine “self-management” comment, I was still furious over this guy. I had gone to the group that morning to message the moderator to see if anything could be done about him. Quite frankly, I had every intention of leaving the group myself since I didn’t want to have to see Mr. Know-It-All and his ridiculous postings, not to mention his backhanded way of selling his services. You really do have to ask yourself why someone would need to sell services to this group if he were all that great at copywriting in the first place. Perhaps the “no discounts” had cut into his profit margin in this economy? When I read that he had left, I rejoiced! OK, admittedly, I did have a little fun at his expense, and with this blog post, I still am! If the troll ever finds this post, he can add his comments below. Of course, I’ll probably censor them! 🙂

Social Media Etiquette

What’s the takeaway from all this? It’s ok to market your services. It’s fine to market your services via social media. In fact, social media is a great way to market your services! However, instead of blasting your message at anyone and everyone you meet in a Facebook group, try engaging them in conversation first. Get to know them. You don’t have to have them over for tea, but it does help at least to have had a few emails back and forth. It’s a lot easier to provide for a friend (or at least a good acquaintance) than it is to sell to a stranger.

Do you agree with the advice given here? Disagree? Are you a troll and want your voice heard, too? Feel free to post your comments! They may or may not be censored!

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About Keith Koger

Keith Koger is the owner-operator extraordinaire of Koger Creative. Although one heck of a graphic designer and copywriter, he has yet to learn that Star Trek, Star Wars and Monty Python references are the quickest ways to drive away women.

1 thought on “Are You A Troll

  1. I recently joined this same copywriter’s group, and I wrote the post about discounting services that set the troll off (!) – but until his last outburst at the moderator, I didn’t think he was that bad. Yes, he sent a message to me on Facebook, complaining about being delisted from the group, (which I didn’t appreciate – it was quite petty) – but he didn’t try to sell me anything in that message either. When I looked back over his posts in the group, the majority of them were helpful; he was offering good advice to novice copywriters. I just think he got carried away!

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