By Emily Suess

Ugh. Internet trolls are the worst, and if you’re not careful they can get way out of hand. Trolls exist solely to be disruptive and generate negative attention for themselves. They take on different forms, but they all waste your time and energy. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to deter and get rid of brand trolls.

Set up a troll log.

Before you ever encounter your first troll, set up a system for tracking them. Take screenshots, setup a spreadsheet, create an internal Twiki—whatever works best. Then keep the information available so that anyone who handles social media for you can more easily identify trolls and either ignore them or ban them before things get out of hand.

Monitor trolls’ activity on other brands.

Some people troll brands simply because they enjoy it. You can do a little sleuthing to investigate whether a troll is active only on your accounts or on many brand pages and accounts. The advantage? If it’s apparent that the individual has made trolling a personal pastime, you don’t have to waste time wondering whether or not to take them seriously. If you don’t see any other evidence of trolling, you may want to monitor the situation for a little while to ensure you’re not alienating a genuine customer who is extremely frustrated.

Wait 24-48 hours to respond.

There is no rule that says you have to reply to a troll immediately. In many cases, it’s actually better to give the troll some time. Waiting helps you and your team keep your own emotions in check. (Some of these trolls are really good at what they do; it’s easy to get defensive.) And waiting also gives the troll some time to get bored with you. If there’s no one to spar with, the troll might just go away.

Let your community handle trolls for you.

On your website and on social media accounts you can sometimes get rid of trolls without taking any direct action. Letting your community—if it’s big enough to do the job—handle trolls by reporting and flagging inappropriate content ensures that legitimate complaints still get through all the noise and clutter.

Block repeat offenders.

When it’s clear you’re dealing with a troll, block or ban them. This helps you keep your messaging on point and keeps your pages useful for real customers and brand enthusiasts. Letting trolls continue to take over your page only diminishes the experience for everyone.

Dig deeper to find the real problem.

Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes trolls aren’t really trolls. They’re real people who’ve had a bad experience and have had no help resolving the problem they are dealing with. In these cases, take a deep breath and dig deeper. Try to understand the person’s emotions and work with them to find an acceptable resolution.

Remember: don’t let them get to you. With these tips in your arsenal, you can fight back against trolls without getting sucked in to their drama.