Trolls, influencers and the virtual civilization

Monday, 3 july 2017 | Redacción CEU

Transgressive, incendiary, instigative, with influential force,... The interventions of influencers and trolls on the networks set the pace of the Social Media Marketing dance. They can extol or prostrate a product with just a remark. Are we meeting the new force of public opinion? Are these ones the new leaders of the digital space? How should online marketing tackle these social agitators?

 

The influence of these actors on the strategy to follow for any digital marketing professional is unquestionable. Not all the companies opt for choosing an influencer marketing plan, but what a influencer says about their brand can change everything. What a company does avoid is the presence of trolls in their networks. These roles, trolls and influencers, are as antagonistic as similar. These new social network's characters know the language of the masses and how to convey their message.

Influencers: renewing or dying...

Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of the influencers in our society. Under the premise "renewing or dying" many Spanish enterprises start to adopt influencer marketing strategies. In particular, these firms follow the trail of profiles that adapt to their message and concept on social networks, and use them to extend their brand. They look for people who tell their stories for them. The results seem to be very positive.

An influencer is a person who has a strong presence on social networks and possesses credibility for its public. He/she is also able to generate a growing interest and create trends. What hooks people to this character is its naturalness. Whit the old advertising, when an actor made a cameo on TV, it was perceived as something unnatural. However, influencers are agents who build trust in a spontaneous way. The masses want to listen to people, not to products. They get to speak in their own language and reach them.

At a time when companies confess spending a lot on advertising for a very low return, the Influencer Marketing, the new modality that generates sixteen times more results than old adverting –according to a  study by Nielsen and Comscore –, promises to become a very important tool in Digital Marketing. What things have to be taken into account when implementing this strategy in a company?

  • Finding a suitable influencer

The influencer should adapt to the brand and have a similar style. If it is not credible, it would not be effective. This must be one of the most important tasks in the development of the influencer marketing strategy. The right tools should be used.

  • Real experiences have a lot of strength

Among the practices that are carried out, we find inviting an influencer to spend a weekend doing all kind of activities with the continuous supply of the brand drink that they want to sell, or sending him/her the last model of sneakers to try them before they launch them to the market.

  • Setting a target and establishing a strategy based on it

The script of an influencer must be real and expressed on his/her own words. It is also essential to develop a marketing strategy with a defined goal.

  • Adapting the strategy to the most suitable channel

The influencers are the kings of Instagram and Youtube, but do not forget other networks like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

Trolls, influencers and the virtual civilization

Trolls: the community manager's nemesis

Although a bad critique of an influencer can lead to the ruin, we should not belittle the power of trolls. The appearance of these actors is a consequence of the disinhibiting effect of social networks.  On the article The online disinhibition deshinhibition effect, the psychologist John Suler claims that anonymity, invisibility, asynchrony, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination and the minimization of authority on the network allow people to act with greater intensity and strength than they would act in person.

Trolls are anonymous people who make joking, offensive, threatening, degrading, defamatory, impertinent, and, in the end, inopportune comments. Their message could become as powerful as the influencer ones, but their goal is very different. Their goals are create controversy and sow discord. In fact, it is a phenomenon that influencers cannot escape from either.

Haters are cousins of the trolls. They differ in that the second ones make their act with no more pretension than an immediate impact and the first ones develop a whole strategy based on hate. In some cases, the 'troll threat' becomes dangerous, they can use practices such as "doxing" – information compilation about an individual and subsequent publication on the network– to silence activists or journalists, for example. It is not uncommon that one of the biggest marketer fears is the proliferation of this characters. How to avoid them?

  • Don't feed the troll!

Indifference is the biggest snub. If they fed them with answers, they would multiply. On the other side, to reason with a troll is completely useless because it does not stick to a logical argument.

  • Are they trolls or critics?

They should be able to discern between a legitimate claim and an agitator. If the comment is negative but convenient, it is advisable to offer a quick answer, after evaluating the situation.

  • Blocking and deleting a troll

Identified troll, blocked troll. Depending on the platform that they work with, it will be possible or not. It is advisable the elimination of bad taste and grotesque comments.

  • Unveiling their anonymity

If  there is a possibility to modify the user names, it would be very advisable putting before his/her name the word 'troll'. So this makes clear to everybody that there is a troll around the Net.

  • Developing a crisis management plan

A contingency plan is always necessary, above all, working on a mean as volatile as the digital world. The most common mistakes before a crisis are: not saying anything, being slow, answering in an impulsive way, minimizing problems and not knowing the sector.

We are building a new parallel society to the real one. It is the beginning of a virtual civilization. In the coming years, the network actors will change, mature or be replaced by others. The digital world evolves very fast, knowing how to live with characters like trolls and influencers is just the first step.Those who want to be prepared to deepen and learn firsthand about the virtual civilization that comes, can study our Executive Master's Degree in Digital Marketing at The CEU IAM Business School.