Moderate Like a Person, Not a Brand

When it comes to moderation, many brands struggle with establishing guidelines and then implementing those guidelines. Besides actively engaging with users on social platforms, moderation is the next most important thing brands can do to build trust and loyal customers. Why? You are making sure your brand’s pages are a welcoming, safe environment for users. No one should feel alienated or uncomfortable while engaging with your brand. They need to trust your content and find it valuable, as well as, the content generated by others. The only way to tackle this is by consistent moderation.

Moderation starts with a great community manager, who is your biggest advocate and enforcer. This person is the “voice” of your brand and that’s important when interacting with users. On social media, people want to talk to people, not brands. Remember, to always keep engagement and moderation personal and sincere.

Below are two examples of negative user generated content left on brand pages. Below each is how I would respond if I would a community manager for those brands.

Example 1:

 “I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

Response: Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. You’re right, what you experienced is unacceptable. Our brand does not stand for our locations being dirty. We have taken your comment straight to this store’s general manager and asked for a reasoning behind your experience. We’ll plan to fix any operational issues that may have lead to this, and in a timely fashion. Again, thank you for taking the time to let us know and we hope in the future we can regain your trust as a loyal customer.

Reasoning: When moderating negative comments on social media it’s always important for the user to believe your brand is really listening to their complaint (the same is true for face-to-face interactions). In my response above, I acknowledge the person’s complaint as valid and agree it was unacceptable. I then go on to say how we’ll fix the situation. First, by following up with the store’s manager directly and secondly, by addressing any operational issues. I end with another “thank you.” By keeping my response sincere and timely, hopefully this customer will give our brand another chance. I would also consider following up with the customer again to let them know if the issue was resolved or changes were made. This could go a long way in regaining that brand trust.

Example 2:

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

Response: Thank you, for your feedback. It’s our policy to remove any comments with inappropriate or obscene language posted on our social media accounts. Please send us a email us (include customer service email) and we’d be happy to discuss your frustrations further with you. We appreciate all of our viewers and want to keep this environment a welcoming one. Thank you.

Reasoning: Brands cannot open the door to obscene comments. Many may not consider the f-word that bad, but it could open the door to much worse language from users. After responding to the above comment, as a community manager, I would screenshot the comment and my response for my records, and then remove the comment from the public account. Hopefully the person would send an email, so we could better address their issues. Or even better, re-post the comment without a curse word! Then I would explain to the viewer that we actually did give equal time to both the Israelis and Palestinian spokespeople. The response would probably include a link to video of the story, along with other stories where we had coverage from both sides of the conflict. It’s hard when people feel so passionately about a cause or issue, but again opening a social network page up for inappropriate language could be a path no brand wants to travel down.

Whether you’re removing a comment for violating your brand’s moderation guidelines or facing crticism head on, brands should have the same goal: to right a wrong. Moderation should lead to resolution, not more conflict and the best way to do this is for brands to remember to be human.

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6 thoughts on “Moderate Like a Person, Not a Brand

  1. Laura,

    I like how you addressed the second comment but didn’t discuss the topic at hand. Because we were told to assume the coverage was fair and balanced, I don’t think a company (especially in the news) to apologize for something they didn’t do. While, yes, it is important for customers to feel heard, there has to be a limit to what they can claim. I also understand that a companies goes is to “right a wrong” but a news organization can’t worry about offending someone with fair and balanced coverage. That being said, I do feel as though giving the person another avenue to voice his or her complaint you will avoid additional conflict.

    Regarding the first response, I couldn’t agree more. Making sure your consumer knows they are being heard and taken seriously is key.

    • Thanks for the comment, Casey. I agree, especially when it comes to news coverage, an organization is never going to make everyone happy. By taking the conversation offline, or just onto a different avenue, can help steer clear of a debate. Chance are the organization is not going to change this viewer’s mind, so it’s better not to engage.

  2. Great post. I would say be as sure as you can be that the restaurant was in a mess before you apologise in this manner. This may be easier said than done but anyway… I will reveal more about how one notible news broadcaster dealt with the Middle East complaint later this week!

    • Thanks Justin. I guess in my response I was assuming the customer’s claim was accurate. But yes, I would definitely confirm that in a real-world situation before apologizing. Either way as a brand just acknowledging a fan’s comment can go a long way.

  3. I liked the way you handled the middle easy complaint. I think that I wouldn’t answer it because it had foul language. I don’t think those who respond in that way need a reply back. I can see how it could backfire on me though, because it would like I would be admitting to it or avoiding the conversation.

    In this situation is it best to right a wrong, when a wrong was committed?

    • Thanks for the comment, Belen! I think in this case it’s best to take the conversation “offline”, either entirely or through private messages. By not acknowledging the comment, a brand could further infuriate the user or encourage others to join “his” conversation, which you wouldn’t want. I think by stating that the language violates the page’s policies and asking to further discuss privately, a brand is accomplishing two things: 1. Stating what is acceptable and what’s is not on the page, which hopefully would encourage others to behave appropriately; 2. Engaging with this user is a more productive way in hopes of turning their “negative” feelings toward your brand in a more positive direction.

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