How do we keep community spirit alive online?

Keeping community spirit alive on World Mental Health Day

Hate speech has become one of the darkest aspects of our social media lives. Even the most innocuous-seeming posts can quickly descend into foul-mouthed, offensive, hate-fueled threads. Why this is the case is the subject of much research, but no matter what the cause, the result is that the extent of hate speech posted online is starting to have real-world consequences.

Today, on World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a look at one of those very real consequences – the impact of hate speech on our mental wellbeing – and what we can do about it.

What is the problem?

In 2015, the No Hate Speech Ireland campaign, which is part of the wider European No Hate Speech Movement found that:

One of the largest consequences of hate speech is the effect that it can have on a victim’s mental health. Many of those who are victims of hate speech may self-harm, or become suicidal, their confidence and self-esteem may be affected, as well as many more consequences. What to one person is a simple word, to another is much worse. While many people believe that how someone interprets their words is not their problem, this is not true. It is your responsibility to ensure that your words aren’t hateful.”

Source: Lorna Costelloe, 2015  


So we’re asking brand and community managers to support World Mental Health Day and play a part in helping the internet be a more positive space for people to share ideas, feel inspired and connect with friends – without the fear of being attacked.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you manage an online community or social channels for your company, take a good look at the overall feel of the community. Would you feel positive, supported, welcome, safe, inspired, amongst friends if you visited for the first time?
  • Dust off your guidelines. (If you don’t have guidelines, write some!) Review all comments, especially the replies to replies. Are you moderating all content consistently?
  • Check for bad actors. Are there certain people who tend to post more inflammatory comments than others? What is the impact of those comments?
  • Be clear on what you expect. Be open about your community guidelines and rules. Set out expected behavior and the consequences of being inappropriate in a post or on the page so that you can refer to them if a user starts to offend the community.
  • Lead the way. Consider the content you are posting. Does it encourage or discourage positive commentary and debate? What can you do to engage positively with your audience? How can you promote behavior that is consistent with your brand values and community?

So why not review the content of your social channels or community today. You could be helping thousands of people feel better and building a stronger, more loyal community too.

Social media moderation FAQs

Is it just about catching certain keywords?

Crisp use a set of markers and associated actions to define patterns of behavior. So no, it’s not just about spotting certain words (although that is a good place to start). You need to consider ongoing patterns of behavior and language. Remember, it’s easy to fool purely automated systems by using language that, by itself, doesn’t raise any flags.

Do I need to remove everything that’s offensive?

Moderation is not about ‘cleaning up’ your channels by removing swearing or strong opinions, it’s about reflecting your audience’s beliefs and your brand’s values.

We find that some brands actively welcome frank, fiery and even commentary that would be considered ‘foul-mouthed’ because that is relevant to them and their audience. Other brands, may embrace a little fruity language, while others feel that anything vaguely offensive is entirely inappropriate for their audience.

There is no right answer, just the one that is most relevant to you. Being consistent is what’s important when building your community online.  

What should I do about negative feedback and complaints?

We work with amazing brand and community managers who welcome an honest discussion on topics that are not only on their brand’s agenda, but that make their audience want to contribute, share and feel part of something. These managers often see negative feedback and complaints as opportunities to improve their product or service. They also give them a chance to address issues directly with the customer straight away.

You can talk to Crisp's online community experts about tackling any of the issues that arise on your brand or community pages by contacting us here