Tag Archives: moderation

Moderating hypothetical complaints on social media (or, how I spend my Tuesday nights)

Short answer: Don't do this.
Short answer: Don’t do this.

This week in my grad school adventures, I’ve been asked to explain how I would moderate these two posts on a company Facebook page. Here we go.

To a fast food chain:

“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.”

My reply:

That does sound gross. I’m sorry you had to experience anything other than a clean restaurant, and thank you for reporting these conditions. I’ve already contacted the manager of the 1467 Justin Kings Way location, and he is immediately addressing the problems you’ve pointed out. The restaurant never should have been in this condition, but we’re lucky to have customers like you who let us know when something’s not right. The next time you’re craving a burger, you’ll find a much improved store on Justin Kings Way. Thanks again!

I would absolutely not delete the customer’s comment. Customers should empowered to leave feedback — positive or negative — on our Facebook page.

I think the most important thing to do with this response is to own up to the problem. There’s nothing worse than a response from a brand saying something like, “I’m sorry if you were disappointed.” That’s telling the customer their bad experience is their fault.

It’s also important to thank the customer and then actually do something about the problem. In this example, I would immediately contact the manager of that location to get some changes rolling so I could report back to the customer, as I did above, that the manager is working on the problem. That inspires much more confidence in the brand than “We’ll pass your feedback along.”

To a mainstream news network (let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides):

“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.”

My reply:

The conflict in the Middle East elicits strong emotions for many people. Our news organization realizes this and reports on the topic as fairly and sensitively as possible. Last night’s report allowed equal time for both sides (here’s a link in case you missed part of the report: [LINK]), and I assure you we will continue to allow equal time for each party. Thanks for keeping us on our toes!

Although I do think it’s important for news organizations to apologize when they get something wrong, I think it’s just as important to not apologize for the things we do right. People have always cried bias when they don’t agree with something in the news.

Take for instance AL.com’s Auburn and Alabama football coverage. We have the same number of people staffing each school, same average number of posts on each school. Yet, depending on who you’re talking to, AL.com is either biased against Auburn or Alabama. I’ve always said that as long as we’re getting this complaint from both sides, we’re doing our job.

Note: If the above post actually contained the full F-word, our general practice on AL.com’s Facebook page would be to remove it. I would, however, reach out to the person via private message to explain why the post was removed and still address their complaint.


Social media moderation: You can’t please them all, but you can try

How some of the most epic comments fights get started.
How some of the most epic comments fights get started.

Moderation ain’t easy; it’s impossible to please everyone.

At AL.com, we use a third-party team of moderators for the comments on our site. There, we hold users to our community rules, which they agree to follow upon signing up for an AL.com account. On the same day, one person may send me an email about their comments being deleted unfairly, and another will send me an email about how awful and inappropriate the comments are under that very same story. But our moderators weigh comments against our rules and approve and remove as necessary.

On our social media accounts, it’s a little more complicated. Our site moderators do not participate in any moderation on our social accounts; it’s up to us. We don’t have specific rules of engagement posted on any of those accounts. When I’m on duty, I try to very lightly apply our standard community rules to the comments and posts left on our page. When I see spam, I report it as such. When we get angry posts or comments or tweets, I let a little more language slide than we might on our site and I do my best to respond to them.

In moderating on our social media accounts, I try to keep in mind that it’s not “our” space in the same way that our site is. People use social media differently, and I allow them that freedom, as long as their “freedom” is not hurting others (like making libelous comments).

We often curate content from Facebook and Twitter. We are increasingly elevating opinions, observations, question and jokes from social media in posts on AL.com. It’s positive reinforcement for our best commenters, and it also shows our followers that we are listening and appreciate their participation.

It’s interesting to see the differences in each network’s communities and etiquette. We often see more heated exchanges on Facebook, and it can get very personal. On Twitter, we see the occasional personal tweet war, but our @mentions are mostly questions and general observations or jokes. In general, Facebook requires much more moderation than Twitter.

What are your social communities like? Which networks require your brand to do more moderation?