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5 Principles for Dealing with Haters & Trolls on Your Church’s Social Media Channels

5 Principles for Dealing with Haters & Trolls on Your Church’s Social Media Channels

frustrationThis year we’ve seen a spike in “haters” and “trolls” on our various social media channels at our church. Haters are people who love to jump in and drop negative comments in discussion but they’re not looking for a reaction. Trolls are folks that are always looking to pick a fight (sometimes about the same thing!) because they are looking for attention. Dealing with these negative people needs some thought and leadership by your team. Here are five principles I operate with when dealing with our haters and trolls …

  • “God’s mercy and grace give me hope – for myself, and for our world.” – Billy Graham
    • We live in a broken world and people have issues that sometime spill out onto your social media streams. When a hater decides to spew their venom slow down and let grace be your first response. This person is broken (like you & me) and needs grace to heal them. How can you extend grace to them in this moment?
  • “People protect what they love.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
    • Social networks are nurtured and loved. You need to protect the people who interact on your social channels. If a troll is attacking another member of your community you need to step in and publicly rebuff the hater. Let their negative talk about you or your church roll off your back (more on this later) but step in to defend your people. Personal attacks are not okay.
  • “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” – Abraham Lincoln
    • Sometimes haters are really just passionate community members in disguise. It takes discernment but consider that this person who is causing trouble could just be looking to have more influence in the community. I’ve engaged these folks with private messages to seek to understand them a little bit better. See if there is a way to draw them in rather than push them away.
  • “For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community.” – Joe Biden
    • Resist the temptation to step in and sort the person out. Take a pause and let the community react. If people are spewing negative stuff about the church and not individuals (see above) … let the community rally around and respond. Watch and see what happens. These negative people present an opportunity for your community to define what’s important to it. Monitor the situation but don’t step in at first.
  • “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.” – Scott Boras
    • Haters gonna hate. Trolls gonna troll. Let it roll off you. If people are smack talking something you are doing as a church take it as a compliment that people are noticing. I had a mentor when I was first in ministry that believed if 10% of your church wasn’t upset with you at any given moment you probably weren’t doing anything. Don’t get your knickers in a knot … move on to the rest of the mission. It’s too important to spend too much time on the haters and trolls.

What about you? How do you deal with negative people in your social media channels? Leave a comment!


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5 Comments

  1. Good points UnSeminary. What’s great about an engaged active online community is that often it will shut down haters and trolls for you. Kind of like online community watch. Those that really enjoy the environment, especially the ones with influence, will often help you police and monitor trolls and will use that influence to shut them down.

    • So true! It’s fun to watch when the community gathers around and “defends the community” against haters and trolls!

      Thanks for dropping in!

      Rich

  2. Nice post Rich. Here is how I deal with them.
    1) Abusive language – warning then ban if they keep it up.
    2) Profanity of any kind gets an immediate ban
    3) Sarcasm and disagreement is okay depending on the topic.
    4) Putting people down, warning and ban if they keep slamming

    • Great! Thanks for sharing what you guys do practically … I find it tricky because I find that often people don’t fit into a discreet category. But that’s a fantastic framework.

      Thanks for sharing and for dropping by.

      Rich

  3. Wow. This is really timely for me Rich.

    This week I posted a response to the Miley Cyrus debacle on my (previously) tiny blog. I wasn’t prepared for the response it got. Readership is typically in the dozens to (at max) hundreds. The post went viral and saw 100,000+ unique viewers in a week.

    What was previously a close-knit family feel became a sprawling range of opinions, some of which were pretty toxic. As a gregarious extrovert, I have wrestled with how to deal with the haters and trolls.

    Some of my response has been grace-filled. But I also let some sarcasm slip in at times as well. I think I’ve for to develop some thicker skin, as well as shrink the amount of time I allot to the haters and trolls.

    Thank you for posting.

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