How to handle agricultural activists and trolls on Twitter


Twitter is a tough place to have a conversation. Not only does it limit the amount of characters you can tweet, it allows people to use anonymous handles, does a poor job controlling hate speech and seems to celebrate sarcastic comments and gifs.

But it does do some things that most other social media networks don’t, which is to allow you direct access to relevant conversations around breaking news, observe real-time trends and help you connect with others you might never meet in person. I use an analogy of Twitter being like a cocktail party that allows you to constantly move around the room and talk to interesting people.

Twitter can also be viewed as a necessary evil by the media, celebrities and politicians. It allows them direct access to their audiences, but it also allows direct access to themselves by those who would rather see them not talking at all. And there’s the rub. Is it worth speaking to your audiences in a place where others can directly attack you?

For some farmers, it is. And they are very good at interacting with our dairy consumers and giving them insights into how dairy farmers take care of their animals and land to produce an extraordinary healthy and diverse product.

If you aren’t prepared to handle animal rights activists and other Twitter trolls, I don’t recommend getting into Twitter until you’ve had some practice using other social media networks that have a bit more control, such as Instagram and Facebook.

If you do use Twitter or want to and are wondering how to handle trolls, here are my suggestions.

  1. Determine if it is a troll. You can do this by clicking through their profile and seeing their tweets and interactions with others. Normally, it’s pretty obvious if they are an activist.
  2. If it is, then block them or mute them. You can also mute a conversation if need be. Honestly, there is no reason to have a back and forth with an animal rights activist on Twitter. They are not your customers, and they aren’t going to be convinced of anything on Twitter.
  3. You can report a tweet if it is bullying (attacking you as a person or threatening you with hate speech and violence).
  4. You can also use the advanced filters to keep people from your Twitter notifications who aren’t there to have a conversation. Check out this article to show you how.

The other thing you must consider is if Twitter is where you will be able to have a conversation with your target audience. For instance, if you want to talk to thought leaders and politicians who are working in sustainability, Twitter would be where I would go. If you are looking to have a conversation about dairy farming with women who have younger children, it would be in Facebook Groups. Knowing where your target audience is having conversations is the most important piece before selecting the communication platform.

If you are ready to take the next steps and join a social media network, please reach out to your local dairy checkoff on They have a lot of resources to help you get started using social media to connect directly with consumers.


To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Facebook Group.

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