Troll Marketing: How To Turn Negative Comments Into Money

I first came across this idea from legendary email marketer and copywriter, Ben Settle.

Ben loves to stir the hornet’s nest for reactions.

A lot of the time he does it on purpose.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s a great way of ‘qualifying’ your readers and followers. Those who are ‘offended’ in any way by what you say, will either remove themselves from your world, or let you know that they were offended so that you can remove them from your world.

  2. It creates a lot of great content and content ideas that help grow your brand and rhelp others to ‘align’ themselves with you..

Ben often shares emails that he receives from people who have moaned at him for something he has said in an email. He does this because it strengthens the bond with those people who agree with him.

In politics, it is said that those who succeed the most are those that cause offence and division within the public.

Those rifts create ‘emotion’ which has people arguing between themselves. And when people are talking about you, it keeps you firmly rooted in their minds and in the social spotlight.

I’m not sure that it works exactly the same in marketing, but what it does do is give you a lot more content and exposure.

A good example of this is this post seen on Instagram where a person decided to vent their annoyance on the post of an artist who kept appearing in his feed.

It seems he doesn’t understand how platforms like Instagram and Facebook work. 

Not only is it their algorithm that decides to show him posts it believes he would like (it has nothing to do with the artist whatsoever unless they run paid ads), unless he blocked her they will show him more of her posts now that he has interacted with her.

What I like here is that the artist took a screenshot of his comment and her reply and then turned it into a new piece of content that can be enjoyed by those who choose to follow her.

It’s sad that humans find pleasure from laughing at others, but we do, and there’s nothing better than laughing at someone who made the decision to be unnecessarily nasty and wrong in what they say.

There is a feeling of justice and closure by showing the world the negative, hateful,a nd irrational comments that people receive.

Obviously, you have to be careful who you try to embarrass or take the ‘piss’ out of, but anyone who is clearly wrong and obnoxious for no good reason is fair game.

The problem with social media is that it has opened up the world to ‘Armchair Experts’.

(Watch the podcast where John and I talk more about Troll Marketing and how you can use it to your advantage.)

This is a term that was first coined during the first Gulf War in 1991 which was the first time military action was broadcast live around the world.

As people watched the war unfold live, the ‘Armchair Generals’ came out to play telling everyone in the pub what ‘they’ (the coalition forces) should really be doing.

Before Armchair Generals, there were ‘Sofa Coaches’.

These were the people who watched live sporting events like football and would shout at teams and players to “hang right” or “kick the ball”

Like the Armchair Generals, Sofa Coaches have this warped idea that they know best without even getting close to the level of expertise or experience of professional coaches and players.

Social media has allowed ‘clueless’ people to become Armchair Experts in anything and everything.

A prime example would be the Armchair Business Experts who were telling the guys at Leeds (UK) based bakery, Get Baked, that they simply needed to ‘bake more cakes’ to supply the demand for them.

The Get Baked TikTok and Instagram profiles get attacked left, right, and centre, by Armchair Bakers and Armchair Business Experts who can ‘talk a good job’ but fail miserably to understand the logistics and limitations of running an actual bakery that has staff, equipment, premises, overheads, and ingredients.

Some of the Armchair Experts have an uncanny knack of being able to predict (wrongly) that people won’t pay £15 per slice… even though many people are happy to actually pay it due to the size of the slice of cake and that they actually enjoy it.

It’s odd that many humans feel the urge to comment on subjects they know little about. 

They feel compelled to share their opinions without realising that they don’t actually know what is going on ‘under the hood’ or what has been going on previously… that and the fact that they know absolutely nothing about what they are talking about!

This sense that they ‘know best’ when they clearly don’t is staggering.

Get Baked have taken screenshots of many of the comments and messages they have received and they share them on their social media profiles for a giggle and to also alert people to some of the issues they may have delivering cake.

Get Baked bake cakes (trying saying that after several alcoholic drinks!) to sell in their store to the people of Leeds, and they open up their online store one morning a week at around 10am to sell their very popular Bruce cake to the rest of the UK. 

Online orders are boxed and sent out in the post. 

Demand for their Bruce cake is so great, it sells out within seconds.

Armchair Bakers and Armchair Business Experts chime in with comments such as “bake more cake if you can’t supply enough” (without consideration for what it takes to bake so much cake) and “this is false scarcity”.

Get Baked have recently moved to a bigger bakery, and I think they have hired more staff to keep up with demand. But it isn’t something that can simply just happen like many people on social media think. 

It takes time to find suitable new premises and staff. 

It takes time to find the additional funding to grow.

What I love about Get Baked is that they have taken a lot of their online trolling and used it in their social media as a way to talk about those issues of selling out fast.

They are showing people that there is only so much Bruce cake available and that there is more to baking cakes than uttering three words “bake more cake”.

Get Baked have been successful in taking their trolling and using it as their own.

They announce on their socials when they are about to share new trolling comments. It’s become a bit of an event for them and it has helped them gain more followers.

I get that people who try to buy a slice of their cake get frustrated when they miss out time-and-time again, but that is no fault of the bakers.

They are just incredibly popular and have a lot of people sitting waiting ready to make an order as soon as the online shopping cart goes live.

True to form, some people are not happy and so they send messages or leave nasty comments hoping to blackmail or scare them into sending them a slice of cake, or acknowledge any ‘evil’ wrongdoing.

But I am happy to say that Get Baked do what they do best, they take those messages and share them with the world to see.

Another perfect example of someone who is putting themselves in the firing line is the chap in the screenshot below who had to leave the comment “This is not a dal!!!!”

I count about four exclamation marks in that comment, which is quite commercial when you consider that the person who posted the video has actually said in the description in brackets that this is a ‘non-traditional’ dal.

He has informed the world that this is not a traditional dal and is in fact his ‘own version’ of the popular dish – it’s very tasty too, I followed the recipe myself and I can say that it is very good.

Yet some douchebag still had to comment.

For me, that would be a prime opportunity to screenshot that comment and use it as part of my own marketing… if it is congruent to my brand, that is.

You should use troll comments as part of your content and marketing, but only if it helps to spread your word and grow your brand.

If it looks like you are simply moaning or being petty, then it may do more harm than good.

If someone has a real genuine concern or issue with you, your products, or services, then answer them and help them to rectify the issue, do not belittle them online in front of millions of people otherwise it will be you who comes off looking like a douchebag.

But, if a person’s comment is completely wrong, nasty, or a lie, then yes… it is fair game to put them to shame.

But I do recommend that you blur out any names and pictures to avoid escalating the situation.

Until next time.

Have a great day.


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