14 #BossMoves to deal with an Influential/Celebrity Troll

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Insights from Marsha

Tweet with the #BossMoves to continue this discussion and share your own #BossMoves

Whether you’re Insta-famous, a bona fide celebrity, a CEO of a listed company, or in any position where you’ve poked your head above the precipice above the ‘norm’ – you know what it’s like to have the haters ‘come’ for you.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand their motives, to get why they are attacking you. If you’ve ever sat looking at your phone and wondered “Why are you spending so much time hating me?” you know the near soul-destroying feeling you get when people you don’t know show just how opinionated they are about you.

It’s bad enough when the keyboard-warriors come for you in their scores… but what if a fandom comes for you? What if a celebrity you’ve respected for ages comes for you? What if someone says something that could really affect your brand? What if they try to destroy you, your business, your puppy, and the horse you rode in on?

What do you do in those few moments when your amygdala (the part of your brain that controls emotions) kicks into fight mode and you want to vigorously defend yourself and maybe cry at the same time?

The fact that more people than ever are becoming famous, is as true as the reality that trolls will ALWAYS find a target. Some people thrive on the attention, whether it’s good or bad. If you’re NOT one of those people and you genuinely need some tips to survive the 15-mins of fame-whoring of your troll(s) then this article is for you!

I recently had a similar experience (it’s not the first time), but this time was different. This time, it was a staffer at a publication who I really respect. Luckily my husband Simon was on hand to remind me how many of my fans LOVE me and what I stand for… It took me all of 2 minutes to re-center myself, shake off the troll sludge – and remember just how darn awesome I am!

So here’s me doing for you, what my guy did for me…

BOSS MOVE #1: WITHHOLD THE FUEL

Trolls are like cars… they need fuel to function. Most trolls (influential or not) are looking for a reaction.

If you don’t react they accuse you of playing possum. If you react and say they are being unfair, they say you’re ‘playing the victim’. If you react angrily they say you are aggressive and then they play possum. If you get a reputation for reacting, you become a sport!

There’s no way you can turn a dedicated nay-sayer into a lover. They may respect you after a hearty battle, but the odds of that are slim; and why would you want their respect anyway?!

Rumors and a troll onslaught (unless tantalizing/particularly salacious) usually fizzles out within a day or three at the most when there is no fuel added. If there’s fuel… prepare for a completely disruptive few days/weeks as this unscheduled interruption could damn-near swallow you whole!

The fuel… is you! It’s your response. It’s you blocking, deleting, answering/liking comments. RT’ing. Dammit it’s you giving ANY reaction to it at all. If you’re important and busy – you won’t have time to respond to fools on the internet. (Yes, I know it’s hard, but you don’t need to do it! You’re better than that)!

Saying nothing is NOT an admission of anything… contrary to the troll telling you otherwise. In the words of Nas “A caterpillar can’t relate to what an eagle envisions”.

You’re an eagle! That they don’t know you, why you are doing what you’re doing, or approve of it is of NO consequence to you! It’s not your business!

BOSS MOVE #2: COLLECT YOUR EVIDENCE

Everything is proportionally worse with an influential troll. When your troll has thousands or millions of fans, followers and others in the public eye looking for a story, you have to be a lot more strategic than you would if it’s Joe Schmo. If you don’t want to be a story you have to know your troll.

I’m not talking about Johnny Nobody with a fake profile who’s trolling you with an egg as his/her avatar. For those you just block, report and carry on with your day. I’m talking about a member of the media, a celeb or another influential person in your industry. If they’re coming for you hard and heavy don’t sit and consume all the venom they can spew – humans aren’t built with natural defenses to that kind of onslaught, you have to learn it – so feeling personally hurt by it is completely understandable.

Instead of taking it in, if their tirade lasts over 48-hours it may be a good idea to get to researching.

Discover as much about them as you would if you were going to face an opponent. You need to know who they are? What they normally write/rap/chat about? How influential are they really? Calculate the possible ramifications of what could happen both negatively and positively if the story became viral. How could YOU spin this publicity to work in YOUR favor?

Next, dig for who else have they p*ssed off? Is this a regular thing (are they a pro instigator or a comic)? What are they doing/hiding that makes them a hypocrite? When was their last arrest and what was it for (in the USA this is easy to check)? Are their fans as negative as them? Will sparking off a ‘war’ end up with you fighting a thousand battles? Who’s their boss? If it’s a media outlet what’s the culture there – is it more Inquirer/Gawker or NY Times? Does the publication/person thrive on drama? What’s the name of the head of HR at the publication they work at? Who’s the Head of PR at their most recent endorsement deal? You may need all this later to take the fight to who pulls their purse strings.

Set up a Google Alert on your name (if you haven’t already) so you can monitor what’s being said… But set one up on the troll too… it’s a non-obsessive way to keep an ear to the ground, without being glued to your phone looking for their next post about you!

Screenshot everything as though you are gathering evidence. It may become useful later. While they spout off at the fingertips or the mouth, you gather your evidence. Your lawyer may need it too if they verge into the arena of slander or libel.

Knowing your troll, is actually empowering. Somewhere along the way you’re going to find something that makes you think… this guy/chick isn’t even worth my time. It’s cathartic.

But if that moment doesn’t come, and the troll keeps coming. You should already be in ‘spin this to my benefit’ mode. If you have a manager/agent they should be doing this stuff for you. LET THEM!! It’s their job to both protect you/take care of your well-being and move your career in the direction you want to be in.

Tidbit: A prior mentor of mine who’s a major name in the music industry frequently has his people contact the bosses of his trolls to get them fired. One of his associates has purchased the home of a troll who was renting it, only to evict them!

Knowing your troll is important. What they can do to hurt you, and what you could do to hurt them. I’m not suggesting you dox or ruin them! I’m suggesting you become formidably armed in case the story takes on a life of its own. If it goes viral and your camp is contacted for comment, it’s just as easy for them to say “YOUR NAME won’t respond to any so-called [CELEBRITY] who [insert hypocrite thing they did here]. S/he’s focused on his/her career and excited about the thousands/millions of fans s/he has who are looking forward to the release of [YOUR GREAT THING HERE].

You DON’T have to answer the troll… LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN…

You don’t have to answer the troll. There is NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT for you to attend every argument you are invited to.

You don’t have to prove yourself to this one person trying to wield their influence to make you cower in a corner!

You’re the adult here. No treats for petulant children! Don’t reward bad behavior with your attention.

Like a boss, follow the ’48 Laws of Power’. Hold your position and act strategically. When people want to speed you up… slow them down so you retain the advantage!

 

BOSS MOVE #3: WHIP YOUR HAIR & SHAKE ‘EM OFF!

When you’re an easy going person, who isn’t conceited, it’s hard to say the words “they’re just jealous” without feeling a little too into yourself. But the fact that you’re keeping your feet firmly on the ground doesn’t take away from the fact that you are regularly going to be trolled by people who look at you and say “what makes you so special”.

It’s hard to say the words “they’re just jealous” without feeling a little too into yourself.

Jealousy is a cardinal sin for a reason. It makes people do and say really gnarly things. The most important thing to remember about trolls is that the lashing out is usually due to them looking at themselves, and then looking at you and feeling that you shouldn’t be doing what you are – or getting the opportunities you have. They lash out mainly because of a deficiency in their OWN lives.

Maybe you’re happily married and they’re single. Maybe you have 3 million followers and they have only 800,000. There’s a LOT of jealousy about ‘numbers’ in this game. You could rub someone up the wrong way by just being fabulous and having a lot of amazing fans!

The thing to remember is that they have the problem, not you! Stay focused on YOUR hustle!

The more dumb trolling behavior you get from people who should know better, the bigger you’re becoming. The more they give you attention, the more your numbers will grow. If you handle it right, their lunacy will work to your benefit! #Winning.

In the words of Madonna… “Laugh at all the haters out there who spend their energy trying to limit and label me with their prejudices and fears!”

BOSS MOVE #4: IF THEY VIOLATE, USE THE ‘LAW’

Presumably, this troll is coming for you in a blog or on social media. If that happens and they start to infringe the terms and conditions of that network, get your fandom to join you in reporting the bully!

If there are enough simultaneous complaints about a comment, the social network/site will HAVE to address it. They may decide that the person isn’t infringing their rules. But chances are, if it comes down to bullying or harassment the social network will warn or suspend the offender altogether.

Whoever handles your negative social media stuff should know the rules, and be able to help you avoid it so you can focus on your talent.

When Azealia Banks came for ex-One Direction superstar Zayn Malik with homophobic & racist rants, her verified account was suspended, followed by her backup account. She serves as a cautionary tale of how spouting off can make someone a parody of themselves.

If your troll is violating the law of the social network; don’t even give them the benefit of your response, just get them kicked off! The resulting publicity is not going to hurt either 🙂

BOSS MOVE #5: RAISE THE STAKES

One of the easiest things you could do to fuel the fire is to write something STUPID and then delete it. Whether you’re the instigator or the responder, there are tons of services out there that catch everything that you post. Even if it hasn’t been liked or RT’d yet – it’s no guarantee it hasn’t been seen/captured!

Gone are the days when using an eraser or wiping the chalkboard clean wiped away all evidence of what was penned before.

Here’s a killer BOSS MOVE…
Get your wallet out when you wanna spout off on social media… get all the cash out you’ve got in the house. Get your credit cards, your car keys, house keys, everything that’s linked to a monetary value… Put it in ONE BIG PILE. Maybe you’ve now got $10,000 on the table (you probably have well over $500,000). Then look at it and say… “Would I pay $500,000 to buy the right to tell this idiot what I really think?”

This exercise does a couple of things…

  1. It should give you enough time to cool down and step away from your phone while you get your wallet and keys etc.
  2. It should give you the happy feeling of knowing your money and stuff is going to a good place – because you’re gonna follow through and give all that cash, the cars and whatever is on your black card to a charity or good cause that day!

If you’re not prepared to PAY to send a dumb reply or response, then don’t send it. Move on with your day and focus on what’s truly important!

Further to that, if you believe what you wrote, you have to toss up the weight of the court of public opinion for/against what you said, and what the media may say when you’ve deleted it.

The reason most of my tips include the ultimate BOSS MOVE of not responding, is because you lose your position when you respond out of emotion and without a plan.

You NEVER have to delete a comment you never sent!

BOSS MOVE #6: ACTIVATE YOUR FANS

When someone starts trolling you on social media and you’re not yet a major celebrity, there’ll be a ton of your fans/followers/friends who know nothing about it.

Your troll may start trolling you about something that’s at least partially true; a scandal or just something embarrassing or potentially disparaging. One of the first instincts is to spout off on your own social media accounts about it. I’ve seen this done, but I’ve never done it myself.

On your OWN page are the relationships that you have cultivated for years, it’s the foundation you have for the great things to come. Don’t bring that mess out there, back into your own camp! In other words, don’t announce and give more attention to those trolling you than you need to, and don’t give them the floor on your stage!

When you give life and energy to this thing, you run the risk of activating the “s/he doth protest too much” argument. After all… if it wasn’t true, why would you even be talking about it?

If you’ve done something wrong, maybe you need to fall on your sword with a statement or a video to your FANS -never to the troll. But pull on the advice from your team before you do (especially your attorney and publicist).

Remember, it’s you who controls your brand narrative. When (not if) something you say get’s misconstrued/taken out of context, and potentially goes viral, your brand is always going to be connected to that thing thanks to Google.

When you’re being trolled, the thing you want to do most is clapback and defend yourself/what you said. But remember, arguing with a fool proves that there are two of you.

The best defense is to let your fans stick up for you, then thank your fans for being loyal. You can even do a Fan-Loyalty Snapchat for them. ALWAYS be spinning the situation to benefit you and your fans!

Remember the best defense is a great cache of superfans that you can call on to shut that troll down – on THEIR wall (not yours). If you have a fandom (even if it’s small) help them catch wind of it in a DM. Leave the rest to them.

The BeyHive is WELL KNOWN for jumping to Beyoncé’s defense without her ever uttering a word. At the time of this writing, Beyoncé has only tweeted 9 times in the 6 years she’s been on Twitter! She doesn’t respond to foolish rumors.

 

BOSS MOVE #7: DON’T PLAY YOURSELF!

I am always shocked at the stupidity of some people who have the gall to say just what they think… and then get fired! But I’m much more flummoxed by public figures who put their foot in it and play themselves. If you could lose your contracts, house, endorsements and future all for acting a fool or saying the wrong thing (which happens too many times to cite) then why choose to play yourself?

I’ve ALWAYS known that I would be someone ‘important’. Even at age 16, I’d avoid doing and saying stupid things that would not look great in a tell-all about me down the road.

We’re all humans, we make mistakes, and we fall. But as much as possible, you have to learn to regulate yourself. Be true to you, but don’t let your reactions or your mouth get you into a position where you could lose opportunities.

See responding to the tomfoolery of trolls as a luxury item. Indulge infrequently.

Bonus tip under this BOSS MOVE is…
Check the laws in your State and know whether it’s legal for your conversations to be recorded without your consent/knowledge. It’s very easy to be caught going off on the phone having a human reaction to an unfair character assassination.

Save yourself the drama and ensure that you’re not going off where you can be recorded and it can be sold to the highest bidder! Watch your tongue. Don’t play yourself by getting caught saying things you’ll have to explain later.

In the words of JLo “I always joke about letting the haters motivate you. Everybody has that in their life, people who doubt them or make them feel less than they are. It just takes faith and belief in yourself, and you’ve got to dig deep into that. That has to come from you–nobody’s going to give you that.”

BOSS MOVE #8: TIME YOUR CLAPBACK

Occasionally the clapback is necessary. You’ve tried to take the higher ground but this idiot is just mistaking your kindness/silence for weakness.

If you decide to clapback then make sure you know your opponent first. If you’re not skilled in the art of the clapback then you better get to learning before you fall foul of your opponent like Khloe Kardashian did when she tried to clap Amber Rose.

A well-timed clapback should make it hard for the person to come back from. Yes, it’s petty. But sometimes you may just want to get down in the mud for a little rough-housing. Think of it as a roast in 140 characters.

Or, if you have a platform and want to clap back on a bigger scale, remember to make it work to your advantage and promote something you’re doing!

If you’ve heard me live you’ll know I’m naturally a pretty outspoken, down to earth, kinda funny person. Because I don’t fear confrontation, I’ve had to give myself a ‘budget’ of 5 clapbacks a year! I don’t have time for fools, but 5 lucky people will get a clapback from me a year. That’s my limit. I enjoy the verbal/written sparring and have a decent vocabulary so when I decide to clapback it’s usually pretty much a wrap.

Anyone else gets the pleasure of a letter from my attorney if they’ve gone too far, or seeing the “you are blocked” message if they are just a nuisance. If I don’t even block you… it’s because you are entirely irrelevant – I don’t even acknowledge you exist!

Clapping back can feel really freeing. You take control and let people know “don’t try to bully me dumba**” just like Kevin Hart did hilariously to a lady who he called ‘Ugly Bark Hands’.

If you are not skilled in the art of Clapback, and you wanna learn (for some kind of personal defense system) then watch roasts, standups and rap battles. If you want to go the route of intelligent clapbacks, check out ‘Prime Ministers’ Questions’ in the UK. Those guys insult each other daily without a swear word in sight, and it’s verbally brutal in an intellectually superior way.

When you clapback, leave emotion at the door. You’re the ONLY rational one in that conversation… Take the moral high-ground and don’t get down into the mud with the troll-pig.

You don’t have to tolerate being bullied or entertain idiocy.

Instead of answering what they said, look for a flaw in how they said it or the fact that they are even on the planet at all. You’re not arguing with a fool, you’re insulting the fool for being a fool.

Piers Morgan @piersmorgan is known for RT’ing people who insult him, and simultaneously correcting their poor grammar/spelling or some other flaw in their bio or avi. It’s sport at this point.

If you’re a fairly argumentative person, talk it through first with your most rational friend or family member or your agent/manager/publicist. You still need to regulate what you say. Don’t just say the first thing that pops into your head – as it may be misconstrued. Don’t ever pick on someone and lose your moral authority.

Clapbacks can be fun, but just know that they can take on a life of their own. If you say the wrong thing you could end up offending a whole set of people… thus playing yourself.

If you are not up for the back-and-forth of the clapback and resulting argument, feel free to BLOCK and report. If in doubt BLOCK and report. There is power in silence. Some people just need to be ignored, words often just show who the fool in the room is.

A couple other noteworthy Clapbacks… Skai Jackson vs. Azelia Banks, Or the hilarious Taraji P. Henson clapback at 50cent.

Sometimes you need to clapback, then there are some times you just need to channel lyrics from @Kandi “I fly above all the drama, it’s beneath me…”

BOSS MOVE #9: CHANNEL THE EXPERIENCE INTO YOUR WORK

If your troll is hugely influential they KNOW damn good and well they’re going to hurt you with their behavior. I’ve said a lot about holding your tongue – but it doesn’t mean you have to be a victim (hate that word btw).

If you’re a musician/artist channel how you feel into your music. If you’re a social media influencer channel it into a monthly show/day online to celebrate courage and badassery! If you’re a writer/author… write something poignant.

The inspiration for this post came from a seemingly intelligent person making dumb assumptions about me. Not only was what they implied wrong, but if they came at me the right way, I would’ve given them an interview.

I’d have happily clarified and share that I own almost 40 brands online and have almost 2 million followers (working toward having 6 million+) through my company www.DigitalExposure.Network which helps VIPs, Celebs & Productions to grow highly engaged fan bases to monetize. (Feel free to check that out too, we’re doing some pretty awesome work and are open to collaborations).

Because they didn’t approach me the right way, I’m not even addressing the person! I’m channeling the experience into this article instead… and you’re reading it!

See how channeling is 100% a #BossMove? Every experience is a stepping stone. Don’t stop and lament over foolery when you’re supposed to step all over it!

You don’t owe them anything. Do this for your fans who don’t know how to deal with this like you have. Like a BOSS! Give them encouragement and stay strong. Your fans love you – and even if a troll thinks very little of you, remember… they live under bridges and only come out when someone spectacular comes their way… yup, that’d be you!

BOSS MOVE #10: REVERSE YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE

When you live your life in the public eye, you have to learn how to go from “OMG” to “It’s okay” in under 3 minutes. If not you’ll develop a perpetual sense of pending doom… and no one should live like that!

In his book “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” Mark Goulston M.D. covered what I can only describe as one of the most rational ways of understanding the stressful emotions of Amygdala Hijack.

Amygdala Hijack is that overwhelming emotional response you get when something happens to or around you. It wipes out your rational and logical brain, and is replaces it with raw emotion.

Learning to control this response, and get to a stage where you are no longer triggered by the haters is really invaluable, and it’s something you need to master.

Dr. Goulston has 10 Steps that can help take the sting out of the emotion and control your physiological response to any situation. Even influential trolls. Check out his 10 Steps here, and cop a read of his book too when you have some spare time.

 

BOSS MOVE #11: KEEP TROLLS IN THEIR PLACE

Never elevate their negativity to the level of those who ACTUALLY matter! Never elevate people above their station in YOUR life. Even if their famous, it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of them! Remember, trolls don’t know you! They look for stuff on the web about you, but they don’t know YOU!

Think about it for a moment… People who have angst about whatever in their own life are sitting poking you, desperate for the validation they will get from being a petulant child. Don’t give it to them. Your REAL family & friends know and love you. Actually… they know all the good and the bad things about you… and they STILL love you.

In the words of Taylor Swift “People will find anything about you and twist it to where it’s weird or wrong or annoying or strange. You have to not only live your life in spite of people who don’t understand you–you have to have more fun than they do.”

 

BOSS MOVE #12: HAVE SMART OUTLETS

It’s essential that you have an outlet for how you feel. Don’t let yourself get so low that your thinking becomes skewed and you change the amazing person that you are.

Try signing up for an anxiety app to help you take control of your feelings. Pacifica (available on Android and iOS) ThinkPacifica.com @ThinkPacifica is a great one. It’ll help you to learn how to manage stress and anxiety, re-channel the bad feelings you have, create new neural pathways on things that are troubling you, and create a new outlook on how to deal.

It has breathing and relaxation exercises that you can whip out anywhere, and an added bonus is the handset password so anyone who gets their hands on your phone won’t be able to access your private thoughts. Needless to say… use a pseudonym and an email address that does not identify you, so you feel 100% safe to vent without feeling censored.

 

BOSS MOVE #13: HAND THEM THE ROPE!

Another benefit you have to NOT clapping back immediately is your troll may end up just hanging themselves without you lifting a finger. Every tweet they send, every article they write, every Snapchat, every word they spout about you without you clapping back enables you to have time to do your due diligence and gather all you need for later (your receipts).

They’re also giving you free publicity and column inches!

While, you may not clap back right away, but keeping schtum gives you time to allow them to look like a complete tool. It’ll turn some of their own fans to your side and… it’ll make them ultimately look like what they are… the aggressor. It’s like a negotiation. You lose power the minute you speak up.

Just think about how Taylor Swift said nothing about Kanye’s ‘Famous’ track until the stage at the Grammy’s. Her silence built to yet another crescendo of Swifties loving her even more! [We’ll ignore for the sake of my point the recent recording of her and Kanye’s phone call].

 

BOSS MOVE #14: USE YOUR ALTER EGO

Early in my career I realized the only way I could be ‘okay’ with becoming more well-known, was to think of myself as two different people. There’s me (the me my family/close friends know) and then there’s “PR Marsha” (not an innovative name but it helped me – choose your own).

A lot of celebrities have an alter ego. Whatever YOU have, you need to be able to look at yourself as one whole person who is compartmentalized. When you switch off and let your hair down, you have to do that with people you really trust.

At all other times, you have to see yourself as a walking, talking billboard.

You’re bankable! Don’t allow your singular view of yourself to stop you embracing all that comes with a life in the public eye.

Authenticity is vital, I’m not saying “be a whole different person and fool your fans/following”. I’m the essentially same person in Marsha vs. PR Marsha mode. I’m really down-to-earth, approachable, I love my fans and I make time for them. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a public figure, I’m semi-retired, I travel the world and I invest, I launch social movements–one of my favorites has had over 6 million hashtag shares and runs weekly (#ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha)— and on top of it all I’m a 4x International #1 Best Selling Author. With all those hats, I’m still ME. But I know that the chilled me, is not the same person who my haters try to attack. I am not my public persona.

Most of my advice and tips are dependent on YOU using your smarts and realizing that these people are commenting on YOUR PUBLIC PERSONA… not you! They don’t know you.

When you can compartmentalize, you will find it easier to see the attacks as being toward your PERSONA, and not YOU. Somehow, that arms-length can help you keep your wits about you, and hopefully, you won’t become self-destructive because of the pressure in years to come.


In summary, the moral of #BOSSMOVES is this…

In the scheme of things the only people who have haters are those who are doing something worth remarking about. Trolls are a right of passage. They are part of your coming of age in this public domain.

You don’t have to like it… But you don’t have to have a cow or lapse into depression when people start on you for no apparent reason.

Trust your team, appoint someone whose job it is to not only protect you from this stuff, but research and build a sh*t list full of receipts for the day that you decide you really want to clap back… or for your memoirs… whichever comes first 🙂

Now it’s over to you!

Have you used any of these #BossMoves yourself?

Tweet me @MarshaWright on the hashtag #BossMoves and share your #BossMoves for handling haters, trolls, and instigators.

 

Sound off in the comments below too! How do YOU deal with trolls?

Remember to share the article too! I’d appreciate it as I stick it to my most recent troll 🙂

 

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