The Facebook boycott with its focus on #StopHareforProfit and with brands piling on combined with forthcoming regulatory moves by the European Union to restrict hate speech and carefully scrutinized social platforms are casting a spotlight on social media moderation. Long considered a back office concern, skillful social media moderation is the key to achieving, accuracy, fairness, balance, safety and security in the social sphere.
Moderation involves the studied deployment of sophisticated software and highly trained human observers to monitor organic user generated content. Most marketers think of moderation as defensive risk mitigation. They understand the moderator’s role is to screen out hate speech and bias, identify and report adverse effects (AEs), rebuff or report the manipulations of scammers and foreign spies, and alert publishers and brands about negative trending topics.
This defensive posture ignores the fact that, in some cases, moderators stimulate, curate or add to the conversation. Moderation agents are the frontline defenders of civility and order in social media who can also become producers and impresarios of social communities.
Consider a broader array of functions for activist social moderation.
Early warning radar.
Moderators spot trends early, identify influencers, discover memes and other forms of user expression. They can be a source of insight and intelligence on many levels.
Moderators can shape or nurture the conversation by their choice of accepted and rejected posts. They can alert communities to trending topics and inject factual data, introduce or eject participants, or interject considered opinions of third-party experts into the conversation. By hiding or deleting offending posts, moderators clear the way for genuine sharing and personal interaction and can keep the conversation on track.
Moderators can spot truly interested and engaged users and provide them with added experiences or messaging. They can supplement a retargeting strategy.
Moderators can direct or connect users with relevant or needed. resources. And they can escalate urgent needs to appropriate third parties. They are on constant alert for threats of suicide or terrorism with established response protocols.
Moderators can gauge the intensity, length and strength of community conversations. They can calibrate the volume, duration, frequency and number of unique voices on a platform, page or topic. These are the variables that comprise a Passion Index, which rates the relative strength and import of social media engagement.
Central to realistically taking a broader view of social moderation is finding a seasoned partner with the staff, skills and experience to on-board quickly and properly represent you throughout the social realm. Key selection criteria should be a track record of success working with well-known brands, connections to and insights about the most popular social platforms, high quality and customizable moderation and social listening software, the ability to create compliant messaging at scale and in anticipation of likely conversations and a strong ethical culture attuned to the mores of our society able to negotiate the negativity that frequently arises on social platforms.
If you can find a partner that meets these criteria, you’re ready to effectively use moderation offensively and defensively to reclaim the social media conversation.