Everything in Moderation…on social media that is

This week we explored the world of moderation and social media. Our behaviors and values are our own and we can’t force them on anyone. Our approach must be as light as possible and never show any retaliatory anger.

We were asked how we would moderate the following audience/customer comments if left on our organization’s Facebook page:

To a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

I would say to this customer, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. What date and time did you visit us? I’m wondering if it might have been during shift change. Our staff is usually great about keeping our dining room and kitchen in tip top shape.”

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

Here I would say, “The conflict is quite upsetting and all of the issues are important. That’s why we make every attempt to report with care and neutrality.”

I think I would let almost anything slide that doesn’t appear to attack anyone. Most of the time, other users moderate one another. People can make some really harsh comments and we would love nothing more than to give them a piece of our mind. Of course, we can’t do this on social media, but other users can and do. Sometimes a major battle ensues. Even then, as the moderator, you have to see what direction the argument is taking and see if it warrants you stepping in or deleting posts and blocking users.

The easy part of moderating is rewarding good behavior. Acknowledging when users say something funny is really just another way of engaging with your audience. Perhaps this side of moderating just naturally occurs when a brand is present. I wonder if having a presence also acts as a deterrent against bad behavior. I would imagine that some people might not take things to the next level if the brand engages often but there will always be those who troll or look for every opportunity to start a fight and get the attention of strangers.

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4 thoughts on “Everything in Moderation…on social media that is

  1. Hi Erin,

    I think, like you, that I would let the mass majority of comments pass because at what point are we violating a user’s free speech? I know this is the internet and things may be a little different, but I also believe that as long as nobody is being threatened or harassed that it may be hard to delete a comment. Though, I may consider more intense moderation on a message board in comparison to Facebook since message board topics have a way of resurfacing at any given time and Facebook comments tend to get lost in a sea of other comments and posts after some time.

    I like how you worded your response for the news comment…. “neutrality.” I think this is a subtle way to combat the comment that was left about the programming because we can see that you have every intention of being neutral and you are not trying to answer in anger.

    I also believe that you have a great idea of asking your customer at the hotel about the date they stayed on your property so that you can try to pinpoint a possible cause for their bad experience. If I was the customer, I would feel like the brand cared about me for having asked that.

    Is there any particular situation that comes to mind that you would without a doubt delete the comment that was made?

    1. Megan, thank you for your comment. I think there is a difference between profanity and vulgarity. If someone appeared to be upset, as in the example above, and used the “F” word, I wouldn’t be as quick to delete it as I would if they were using really vulgar language. This would include a post with a lot of really bad language or one that directs that language towards any other person. A post like that contributes nothing to the community. In my mind, they lose their freedom of speech when it crosses the line between self-expression and hindering the experience of other community members.

  2. Great post Erin! I agree with all of your points. The only one I would slightly edit is the hotel response. The reason is because a hotel brand has a specific department for dealing with customer service issues. The role is called a Guest Relations Manager. I find that if I ask people questions about their negative experience, they just go on and on about how terrible it was, even if it really wasn’t’ that bad. I also think that people try and get credits or free stays by milking a “not so great” hotel experience. For this reason, I would suggest to address the matter similar to the way you did, but direct them offline to the guest service manager so they can handle it. That way the guest isn’t further damaging other people’s opinion of your brand or restaurant.

    1. Casey,

      Thank you for your insight. Directing them offline to guest services is a great suggestion. I know people really do try to get as much as they can from any potentially negative situation. You have to use any tool at your disposal to diffuse these situations and protect the brand. Initially addressing it publicly helps to show your concern to the one who made the complaint in addition to any others in your audience. Taking it offline after that seems to be very appropriate in this example.

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