Dos and Don'ts of Online Content Moderation

By: Alex Chrum | Published: August 27, 2013

People are unpredictable. So is the Internet. Since user-generated content (UGC) is online and produced by people, the combined unpredictability is a scary thing. Anticipate that there are always people who stir and spark controversy wherever you allow it. Moderating digital content creation puts the control back in your hands, and these best practices for moderation help you get it right.

Do: Choose the right type of moderation

The best type of moderation depends on several factors— audience, business model, type of content, timeliness. From pre-moderation to post-moderation and everything between, the mechanics of any moderation project is vital to how it affects user engagement. For example, anywhere the flow of communication affects the social atmosphere, real-time pre-moderation facilitates engagement while post-moderation hurts it.

Do: Use crowdsourcing

In a perfect world, moderating digital content creation in-house is a good idea – after all, who knows your clients and their policies better than your own people? Then reality rears its ugly head. You have over-qualified staff moderating content or a community manager whose time is suddenly only spent on moderation. The result? Your clients suffer. Other areas of your business suffer. Instead, use crowdsourcing to power 24/7 content moderation at scale in real-time.

Do: Create clear guidelines

Users simply cannot comply with guidelines and polices that don’t exist or leave things unclear. Know your clients. Know what hurts their image, and know how to advise against it. Be specific. Be clear. Be firm. It’s the reputations of your clients on the line. Leave nothing to chance. Need another reason? If you embrace crowdsourcing for your moderation, that objectivity keeps everyone on the same page.

Don’t: Focus only on the big picture

When you’re launching ad campaigns, it’s easy to only look at the big picture. This is the worst thing you can do for your clients. The glue that holds that all together, makes each element effective, relies on client reputation and image. And that relies on moderating digital content creation by users.

Don’t: Wait until the last minute

Don’t let moderation fall to the bottom of your priority list. Clients likely assume you’re protecting their image. You know the advertising channels, so why not build moderation into your client package? You’re giving clients what they’re already expecting, and it helps prevent jeopardizing the campaigns you build. The best part? You set your agency apart from competitors who leave content moderation off their list.

Don’t: Over-moderate

Too much of something is usually a bad thing. That includes moderation. While you want to remove inappropriate content from the social spheres of your clients, you don’t want to over-moderate. Appropriate negative comments and feedback actually bolster the reputations of clients. It’s unrealistic to think any client lives in a never-ending bubble of sunshine and roses. Appropriate UGC – including negative—lends more credence, more realism to client images.

What best practices would you add to this list? What dos and don’ts have helped you deliver effective campaigns that protect clients with moderation?


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