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Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World
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Moderation Protecting Your Brand In A Social World

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  1. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World. Mzinga eBook May 2011 Contact information: Mzinga T: 888.MZINGA.8 E: learnmore@mzinga.com W: www.mzinga.com T: @mzinga Developed in collaboration with© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 1
  2. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldInteractive and social media sites have become integral to the online presence of more and moreorganizations as they work to keep their various constituents engaged with them and each other.Businesses find themselves competing with busy schedules, competitors, and personal interests asthey try to capture and retain their constituents’ time and participation.Ultimately, the organizations and communities that meet with success are those that haveinvested in planning and executing a community strategy plan—including moderation as a corecomponent. Too often, moderation is mistakenly defined as simply policing sites to removeprofanity and other unacceptable content. Instead, moderation can—and should be—much more.Moderation’s role in community solutions includes caring for both content and membersexternally and supporting the community strategy and goals internally. What is an online community?Why Does Moderation Matter?Moderation may sound more like a luxury than a necessity, but the bottom line is that you need to A community by definition is a socialprotect your brand identity and your image. Any time your company is associated with content group whose members are located in athat is generated and posted without your explicit control, you are exposing yourself to some specific place, share the same rules, andamount of risk. Potential issues include libel, slander, copyright infringement, and release of share common interests that they see asprivate information. distinct in some way within society as aYou also want to promote a positive image of your organization and your site. And ultimately, you whole. When we bring people togetherwant to gain something from the site—insights, revenue, visibility, connections, etc.—all of which online to share information, thoughts,are results that require some encouragement and direction on your part. and ideas, we are creating a virtual community—which needs the sameDefining Your Moderation Strategy constructs in order to function properly.To effectively define the role of your moderators, you first need to establish a clear moderationstrategy. But even before you can identify your moderation strategy, you must have a clear visionand execution plan for your overall online community strategy.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 2
  3. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldCommunity StrategyBehind every community, it’s essential to have a strategy with clear and measurable goals andobjectives. When you create or review your strategy, try to involve all of the stakeholders in theproject, which will likely include a cross-section of departments or teams. Your strategy shouldencompass how the community fits into the bigger picture of all of your company’scommunications and content. It should also include how various properties and entities willinteract.Once you’ve defined your community’s overall goals and objectives, you can develop a moderationstrategy that will best support your needs. Examples include: • The types of participation that you’d like to foster within your community Community Strategy (i.e., survey responses, text posts, dynamic exchanges, video uploads, etc.) • The content and topics that matter most to your audience, and should therefore be √ Tip Be sure that you review your community promoted and moderation strategies periodically • Anticipated or potential violations, and the appropriate action plans for addressing such and update your goals and objectives as violations (Examples: posting copyrighted material, engaging in aggressive personal attacks, your needs change. marketing competing products) Best Practice • The importance of immediacy of content posts and real-time interactions Do not treat your online community as a stand-alone entity. It should be part of • What level of risk you are willing to take your organization’s larger communication/content plan. • The escalation paths for unforeseen or emergency situations • The amount of coverage you need (24x7, peak traffic hours, daily) based on all of the above© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 3
  4. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldTechnology ConsiderationsYour moderation strategy and technology selection will have an impact upon each other. If youare in the planning stages of your community, take the time to define your requirements, researchyour options, and make the investment in a community platform and toolset that will meet yourneeds.You should include your legal team and other stakeholders in the requirements-gathering phase toensure that their needs are identified and then met. Your solution should be stable and flexibleenough to grow and change with you over time, and it should provide reporting that aligns withyour community’s goals and objectives.When making your technology selection, consider: • Ease of user interface for both your team and your members Technology Considerations • What can be automated (like word filters and alert flags) √ Tip • Member management flexibility The best decision-makers will have an • Whether you can manage member privileges (banning, probationary measures, etc.) understanding of both the people and • Reporting and tracking functionality the technology sides of your endeavor. • Solution scalability √ Tip • Flexibility to integrate with other internal systems & tools Be realistic about the bandwidth of the team in charge of the community and • Hosting, security, and system requirements choose tools that can help automate • Maintenance costs certain processes, like profanity filters and activity reports. • Whether this solution is a good fit with your community & moderation strategies Best PracticeIf your technology decision has been made prior to the creation of your moderation strategy, you Set up (and review!) standard activitycan work to match your strategy to the toolset that exists—or you can look for supplemental tools reports for your community.or services to help you bridge any gaps.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 4
  5. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldEstablishing Ground RulesWith your strategy and technology in place, you can create the terms of use and outline theconduct guidelines for your participants. Your Terms and Conditions are a legal agreementbetween the community owners (you) and the members and serve to protect everyone’s rights.Since this is a legal document, a lawyer should create or, at minimum, review your terms andconditions. This documentation is the foundation and reference for your moderation team.Make your Terms and Conditions simple, clear, and accessible.Your Terms and Conditions and Code of Conduct should protect you and your community Ground Rulesmembers. Take the time to create a solid document that really helps people to understand whattheir responsibilities and limitations are as participants. Make sure you specify the type of √ Tip It can be useful to create a Code ofcommunity atmosphere you are creating and outline your guidelines. Be thorough, but keep your Conduct to separate the legaleseterms simple and clear so that members will actually read and understand them. And remember— typically required in Terms andyour moderator has to enforce your terms. Give your moderator s a solid foundation from which to Conditions from the information on howwork. Be sure to include: you expect members to handle themselves. Posting an FAQ is also very • Content Ownership helpful. • Liability limits Best Practice • Indemnification Anything you post should be as simple, readable, and friendly in tone as possible.Having the legal language in place in your Terms and Conditions is important to minimize liability, Best Practicebut it is also important to provide a Code of Conduct document that provides your guidelines in Post your Terms and Conditions in aplain English. prominent place on your site to make it easy for people to refer to the documentYou may also find it helpful to integrate acceptance of your Term and Conditions and Code of as needed—and so no one can say theyConduct into the overall registration process. This can be accomplished by requiring members to couldn’t find it!select checkboxes indicating that they have read both documents when they register theiraccounts.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 5
  6. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldDefining the Role of Your ModeratorsEvery community has its own special requirements; however, there is also a set of common needs.The moderator’s role, with respect to interacting with community members, can be segmentedinto three main categories: 1. Engagement – welcoming new members and encouraging continued participation from existing members. 2. Facilitation – providing conversation support and answering members’ questions. 3. Trusted Content – making sure that content posted to the site is appropriate, Terms and Conditions are enforced, and that members feel safe in the community. Engagement √ TipThe Moderator’s Role in Engagement Pointing new members to the Terms and Condition and/or Code of Conduct as a standard operating procedure willWhether a community is new or established, moderators should welcome new members. That help the moderator with enforcement ofwelcome can be as simple as a standardized email that thanks the person for joining, points to the those terms later.Terms and/or Code of Conduct, and suggests ways in which to participate more fully in thecommunity. If more bandwidth is available, a personal response from the moderator is ideal, sinceit can show the new member that their contribution is valued and appreciated. Best Practice Make sure that every new memberEngagement is especially important in a new community. In addition to welcoming new members, receives a response to their post—even if that response is from the moderator.moderators help to create social proof and seed conversations: Receiving a response increases the odds that the person will return. • Creating Social Proof. We all look for social cues about how to act in new settings and situations. This is as true online as it is in person. A street musician might put a few dollars in an open instrument case to suggest that people leave tips, and a sitcom might overlay a laugh track. Similarly, the moderator might create a profile, post a video, link to an article, or take other actions to provide constructive examples for the community.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 6
  7. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World • Seeding Conversations. Until a community reaches critical mass, the moderator often plays a primary role in starting conversation threads or keeping existing threads going. Posing a question is one of the best ways to spark activity. When possible, give members some context for an answer by providing some background information or even giving your opinion or answer to that question. Linking to videos or articles around a topic might also interest people to take a look and weigh in.The Moderator’s Role in Facilitation(Conversation Support)It should be easy for members to find and contact the moderator with questions or problems.These inquiries could be technical in nature, such as questions about supported web browsers orthe mechanics of the community site, or they may focus on conversations, content, and sources. FacilitationRegardless of the question topic, the moderator is typically the frontline support interface formembers. Moderators aren’t expected to know all the answers, but they should know where to √ Tip Try to find out why someone is makingfind them. a request before taking action. For example, if a member asks to be Conversation support also comes in the form of assisting members who might be having trouble removed from the community, check tostaying within the guidelines of site conduct. This crosses over into trusted content and see if there is an issue that can beenforcement, but we are including it in this section since the goal is to help people create posts resolved rather than losing them.that are constructive.In rare cases, moderators may need to remove disruptive posts. Reasons for such an action can Best Practice Set and adhere to a service levelinclude copyright infringement, inclusion of personal information, inappropriate language, and agreement (SLA) for responding toinadvertent release of confidential company news. Your members need to know that you value inquiries. Response times can vary bytheir posts, so you should always let a member know when and why their post was removed. type of submission. For example, you might address a violation report withinModerators can also add great value to the community by helping to tease out interesting points 30 minutes and a general question aboutwithin posts. At times, posts with great ideas can be overlooked, either due to a great deal of the site within 4 hours.posting activity or simply because the post was vague or unclear. In both instances, a skilledmoderator can bring the ideas to the forefront at the opportune time.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 7
  8. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social WorldTagging also falls within the facilitation role. If your community platform enables content tagging,it is worth your time investment to set up the key words. Members can tag key words in their ownposts, and moderators can add the tags as well. Tagging will help you and your members to bettersearch content over time to find topics of interest.The Moderator’s Role in Trusted Content(Creating a Safe Environment)For a community to thrive, members need to feel comfortable when they are there. The guidelinesand standards for behavior should be clearly outlined in the Terms and Conditions and/or the Code Trusted Contentof Conduct. It is the moderator’s responsibility to watch over the community and make sure thatmembers are meeting those standards. √ Tip Set up profanity filters to flag posts forThere are a few options for reviewing posts to your community, including: review so your moderator can focus on posts that require attention rather than • Pre-moderation: scanning everything for offending words. Content is reviewed prior to appearing live on the public community space. √ Tip • Post-moderation: Create separate review queues for Content goes directly to the live site and is reviewed after it is posted. profanity and other filter flags to make it easy for the moderator to review.The choice you make will depend on how much risk you can bear, which is determined by factorsthat include the regulations of your industry, market guidelines, and member demographics (for Best Practiceexample, sites for children require careful content review). There are pros and cons to both Include your community members in the monitoring process, allowing them tomoderation methods. feel some ownership. Self-monitoring within a community becomes a necessityWith the appropriate tools, some of the monitoring can be performed effectively and efficiently when volume reaches a critical mass.using filters. Word filters can flag offending language and shift a post into a queue for moderator Make it clear and easy for members toreview. report violations and suspicious activity.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 8
  9. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World An experienced moderator will also be able to intervene when a member is approaching a violation and provide some guidance to steer that member in the right direction. Moderators should monitor interactions to look for suspect patterns of communications, or messaging that sounds threatening in any way. It is very important to know the proper escalation path when confronted with a violation or a worrisome post. In the end, consistency is key. Whichever moderation approach you choose, and whatever your conduct guidelines are, it is critical to act consistently. You need to treat all members equally and all instances of similar infractions the same way. This is especially important when the moderation role is shared by multiple people. Your community is paying attention to what you do. You need your members to trust not only the community, but the moderator as well. Reporting The Moderator’s Role in Reporting (Ensuring Steady Communication) Best Practice In addition to keeping your community Ultimately, the moderator, in conjunction with your Community Manager, is responsible for the safe, sound and thriving, moderation can flow of information between the company and the community. One of the most important parts of provide valuable insight into your that process is reporting—tracking trends and issues, kudos, and complaints. community. Reporting and analysis should be performed regularly on The types of activity and trends that should be tracked include: community activity, including levels of disruption, posting quality, hot topics,  Frequency of new posts recommendations, etc.  Subjects users are talking about, also called "Hot Topics"  Amount of disruption, in the form of warnings issued, posts that had to be deleted or escalated for a decision about whether they should stay up, etc. (For effective tracking, cut and paste individual posts into the report.)  Benchmarks, such as users beginning to defend each other or help solve each others problems  User quotes that can be used to drive traffic to the forum  Effectiveness of advertising campaigns© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 9
  10. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World  Responsiveness of users to changes in site content  Assessments of the quality of posts (users staying on topic, intelligent and lively contributions, sharing of knowledge, etc.)  Requests for action by a user, such as a question or complaint about content on the site that the host cannot answer  Affinity between business and member goals; identification of areas in which the two can be made closer  Recommendations for areas where the website can be improved  Identification of members who are a positive influence and what they are saying Summary Keeping in Compliance with Moderation can make or break an online community. Good moderation will keep members Applicable Internet Law interested and engaged. Great moderation will connect the community with your website, brand, There are laws in place for certain and overall strategy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that poor moderation, or a lack of industries (e.g., Financial Services) and moderation, can put you at risk for damage to your brand and reputation—or even leave you audiences (e.g., children). For example, vulnerable to litigation for copyright infringement or safety violations. To ensure success, you sites with minors as members must should be purposeful when you create your strategy, select your technology, and staff your comply with the Child Online Privacy moderators. Protection Act (COPPA). You need to Not only do moderators play a pivotal role within the day-to-day running of your community, but make sure that you know what standards they are also a key voice on your team that develops communication and content strategy. The and laws apply to your community. moderator can act as both your organization’s voice out to the community and the voice of the community back in to your organization. Nothing replaces first-hand experience when it comes to moderation. An experienced moderator can sense when a thread or conversation has taken a wrong turn, can identify when language or activity is nearing violation, and knows how to guide participants to become better more productive members. It is not uncommon to find that the most cost-effective way to fill the role is outsourcing.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 10
  11. Moderation: Protecting Your Brand in a Social World Mzinga Moderation Services Mzinga provides professional moderation services that can deliver both staffing and reporting to meet your specific needs. The professional moderation team provides a full array of tools and support to help clients About Mzinga efficiently and effectively manage community content anywhere that people interact on your site. Mzinga is the leading provider of on- demand social software solutions for Mzinga’s moderation services go beyond simply maintaining order in your community. The Mzinga team can marketing, customer experience, and also help define your moderation strategy, provide front-line member support, accelerate community employee productivity. The world’s adoption by seeding new and existing discussions, and stimulate conversations around relevant topics. leading brands choose Mzinga for our broad range of scalable social media and By working in partnership with clients, Mzinga helps create safe and welcoming environments in which learning technologies, in-depth members’ contributions meet business policies and remain true to the clients’ brands. moderation solutions, and expertise in A robust proprietary moderation toolset helps automate the processes of identifying, filtering, and resolving successfully delivering solutions that content that is not in line with set standards. Mzinga is also adept at providing services for clients who use solve business challenges. With 15,000 third-party community software platforms and homegrown solutions. communities under management, Mzinga services more than 2.5 billion As experts in providing information on the interactions that take place within communities, Mzinga monthly page requests from 40 million generates specialized reports—daily, weekly, monthly—or analytic documents that help understand what is unique visitors in 160 countries important to community members, and what they have done on the website that is associated with your worldwide. business. Reports can be customized to client-specific requests. With a global team of experienced moderators, Mzinga is able to address specific needs and schedule ---------------------------------------------------- requirements around the clock, 365 days a year, and offers multilingual services—including English, German, To learn more, contact us: French, Spanish, Japanese, and many other languages. Mzinga is flexible and scalable, and can support both short-term and long-term needs, whether it is coverage for a steady schedule, or additional coverage for a • www.mzinga.com special event. • LearnMore@Mzinga.com Mzinga regards moderation differently than any other company, viewing each individual community • 888.MZINGA.8 (888.694.6428) member as intrinsic to the well-being of the community in general. Mzinga works hard to ensure that members stay members and that they are actively engaged in the community.© 2011 Mzinga, Inc. 11

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