With an ever-growing number of spammers, scammers, and general all-round haters and trolls running riot on our social networks these days, it's essential that big and small brands have a comprehensive policy in place to ensure they're ready for an attack.
Most Social Media Managers worth their salt today will have included in their social media governance policy a plan to monitor and moderate their user generated content (UGC) around the clock.
However with different types of content moderation in existence, it can often be difficult to know what's the best option for your brand?
Simply put, content moderation refers to the practice of listening, escalating and responding to inappropriate UGC on a brand's social media pages. This also includes the moderation of a company's owned platforms or apps, such as a news site, community forum or gaming app.
By applying a set of rules which define what is acceptable and what is not, content can be quickly removed when a user's comments fall short of the mark.
At Crisp, we’re experts in protecting global brands from social media risks. If you're in the business of managing your company's brand online, then you'll want to read our list of 4 content moderation options, plus 1 that shouldn't be an option at all:
Pre-moderation simply means that UGC is moderated before it ever appears online. Once a user clicks to submit a post, it is sent for review.
Importantly, pre-moderation ensures that inappropriate content never makes it online, meaning offence can never be caused and your brand’s reputation cannot be damaged by association. It can be an essential means for stamping out grooming, cyberbullying and radicalisation; stopping predatory behaviour in it's tracks.
However, there are downsides to this method of moderation. Users can become impatient if they’re forced to wait for their comment to appear. What they mightn’t realise is that it's moving along a virtual moderation queue.
This can cause the communication to become staggered and can deter some users from commenting altogether. When using it, you can run the risk of losing users who expect an experience in real-time.
At best, pre-moderation can be used on a site that is not time-sensitive but has significant legal risks. Where it’s not going to work is in areas for forum moderation or virtual world moderation, where free flowing conversation in real-time is key.
2. Post Moderation
Post moderation differs from pre-moderation because UGC appears instantly online, whilst at the same time joining a virtual queue for moderation. This allows users to engage in real-time discussion, so the flow of conversation isn't compromised.
Inappropriate content is passed onto the relevant team to deal with and can be removed soon after if it is deemed to break the rules. Because your platforms are always at risk of showing inappropriate content to users however, it is important to ensure your response is speedy and accurate.
Post-moderation can be done by a team of human moderators in addition to using an automated system that flags up inappropriate content. Having a team of expert moderators in places ensures the right content is removed, reported or blocked quickly.
3. Reactive Moderation
Reactive moderation relies on users to report inappropriate content when they see it. This means posts are usually only checked if a complaint is made about them, usually via the report abuse button. When ‘clicked’, an internal team of moderators get to work to review the offending post and remove it if necessary.
Reactive moderation arguably puts power into the hands of the user. Significantly, it’s shifts the onus of responsibility for defamatory or illegal content (although not always) away from the site owner. On the flip site – reactive moderation can result in a lot of false positives, meaning users can report things for no good reason.
Yes, reactive moderation is scalable, expanding effortlessly with an online community as it grows without increasing the workload or cost of moderating.
However, not all is all is good with this method. Posts are only removed when reported, which may be too slow in an era of ‘up to the minute news’.
In our view here at Crisp, removing a post that can tarnish and ruin your brand’s reputation in a matter of hours is more important than saving a few dollars.
All of these reasons mean that reactive moderation is unsuitable for communities where safety is absolutely critical or where your brand’s reputation must be protected at all times. Ideally reactive moderation would be used alongside another method of moderation.
4. User-Only Moderation
User-only moderation means every user can decide how useful and appropriate UGC is. If a post has been rated as ‘not useful’ or ‘not appropriate’ a certain number of times it can automatically be hidden.
Just like reactive moderation, this type of moderation can be easily scaled as the online community grows, with no added cost or work involved.
However, again there are negatives for obvious reasons. The downsides to user moderation can be even more severe than reactive moderation. This is because inappropriate content must be viewed and given negative ratings numerous times before any action is taken, meaning damaging content will remain online for longer.
In fact, if you’re serious about your brand’s reputation, you’ll probably find that user moderation itself will require another level of moderation to prevent posts being deemed as being unfairly removed. Ironically this could result in slightly higher maintenance than what it first appears to be!
'Zero' Moderation Is Not An Option
Surprisingly in 2016, many companies choose not to include moderation as a key part of their social media governance policy. In our experience, one the biggest reasons we are told is because they haven't experienced a major social media crisis to date!
However companies are wising up and realising that without some form of moderation in place, a company runs the risk of significant brand attacks and loss of revenue.
If you work as a Social Media Manager, PR Manager or Brand Manager, protecting your company’s brand and reputation should be at the forefront of everything you do.
If you’re still not sure, but would like to learn more about the social media risks your brand is exposed to 24/7, why not get in touch with one of our social media risk experts today for a free social media risk profile.