Trolling as an effective marketing strategy?


Have you ever been a troll? Not the booger-eating, nose-dripping, foul-smelling, gross-looking, cave-dwelling creature of folklore, but someone with the intent to provoke a response by writing an intentionally intrusive and provocative message, usually for his own self-amusement. Aside from it being morally repugnant, perhaps “trolls” are being used to gain some traction on the Internet. As a strategy to generate more traffic towards the business.  I noticed a theme current among successful, quickly growing, Internet businesses and those that attract a lot of negative publicity. What is that exactly?

Create something viral.

Something that elicits a response from your audience (read: target market). Something that spreads like Tyrion’s wildfire, with the smallest amount of effort possible. A troll does exactly that. He is capable of spewing just enough fire to set the woods aflame, and he does so using whatever means he has it his disposal. A simple attack by a troll could easily influence public perception, whether it is true or not doesn’t even matter. This has horrible consequences for the one he is attacking, unless he can somehow turn it into a plus. For instance, by taking a stand against a troll attack will surely put you into the spotlight. That’s unfortunately how it is in our world, an uproar is like a delicious food to the media monster.

What tool does the troll favor?
The tool in question would probably be Twitter. It is the easiest way to create a domino effect in the Internet world. The troll would make a remark compelling enough to illicit a response, and it would get quickly retweeted. Something Kahneman would approve of in terms of framing. The Twitter machine would do the rest and generate lots of interest towards your business. Not the kind you would like, but perhaps it can be dealt with in such a way that it actually benefits you. Do note, it’s not unheard of for a troll to make death threats to the proprietor, but not all trolls are alike.
Is it ethical?
Of course not. Considering that the troll would target the subject in a foul way, it is absolutely not ethical. The Internet is already a cesspool, attracting many a deranged mind to deluge their normally unspoken of interests. A troll may use any type of allegation or untruth to get what he wants and he often uses Twitter as a hate amplifier.
Inspired by a worthwhile read on wired.com: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/trolls-will-always-win/ A grueling tale of an honest woman trying to make a living, but harassed by trolls. She purports that the “game” against trolls is fixed. It can’t be won, what are your thoughts on trolls on their effect on (small) internet businesses or public perception of large brands?

 

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