Marketers: time to increase comment moderation

by Richenda Vermeulen
May 15, 2020

Facebook has recently switched from human moderators to AI-powered moderation due to privacy concerns as their staff work from home.

Though the fundamentals of comment moderation remain the same, the human elements of comment moderation are being missed. AI-powered moderation means some negative comments are being ignored and some positive comments are being flagged. This means you must actively increase your moderation.

Comment moderation is important because it affects your advertising effectiveness

As much effort as you put into copy, creative and targeting for ad campaigns, you must consider that your audience can also see comments and reactions to your ads.

If you’re leaving negative comments unchecked, you’ll undo all of your hard work and you’ll be advertising negative messages.

Giving is largely motivated by social factors, and consumers can rely on the opinion of other consumers to judge trustworthiness of an organisation.

In other words, comments from other consumers will trump your creative and decrease the effectiveness of your ads.

Negative comments affect trust

Left too long, negative messages can quickly evolve into ‘truths’. This is increasingly important as trust in Aussie NFPs is already fragile.

I see this in our work with clients at ntegrity, but it was groundhog day when I led social media for World Vision USA and World Vision Australia. In managing communities of more than one million, I quickly learned that if you leave these comments unchecked, you could inadvertently be advertising negative messages about your organisation.

Negative comments can be overcome

At World Vision, the greatest source of misinformation we dealt with was that our CEO, Tim Costello, was grossly overpaid. Instead of shying away from this rumour, we directly addressed it with the truth in an FAQ. This link was what we used in our responses and after some time and continual response, our community started addressing this problem for us. In many cases—they used the same link.

Not only did this help strengthen our brand, but it made our work easier as others started to spread the truth on our behalf.

All the work you do to improve your image is an asset here. The way you respond to comments is one way to strengthen the bond with your audience.

We’ll be touching on this in our webinar on using Facebook’s tools during COVID-19 on May 7. But here’s a quick guide on how to approach comment moderation.

How to approach comment moderation

Comment moderation hasn’t changed that much over the years, just the frequency and technology behind it.

To help codify your response plan, a response matrix or decision flow is useful in ensuring consistency.

Below are some fundamentals to consider.

Comment response matrix

Note: this is a simplified approach, we recommend building this out into a robust matrix based on key topics and themes you commonly encounter.

1. When to hide comments

For comments that are abusive, racist or offensive in nature, we suggest completely hiding the comment. When hiding, the commenter will be unaware that you have done so.

Responding to these comments only adds fuel to the fire, further diminishing the perception of your brand.

2. When to ignore

For shorter comments that do not warrant a response, a simple ‘like’ or small engagement will do. If a comment is confusing but not necessarily a troll comment, you can leave it be. An audience can recognise where a comment doesn’t warrant a response.

3. When to respond

In general, the more you can respond the better. Each time there is an interaction with your brand, the social network around the person can see it. So it’s just as important to respond to positive comments as it is to negative.

Respond to positive comments

Source: The Salvation Army Australia / Facebook

That said, prioritise moderation that dispels myths and informs users of your services. Use facts, information and, in some cases, supporter stories to speak directly to misinformation.

A great example of comment moderation is from Vinnies in their drought campaign:

Provide constructive responses to misinformation

Source: Vinnies Australia / Facebook

They actively dispelled the common ‘overhead myth’ providing factual information in a strong tone of voice. Eventually, this leads to your supporters advocating for you:

Your supporters wil eventually advocate for you

Source: Vinnies Australia / Facebook

For longer positive comments and questions about your services, make sure you always respond! This is a great opportunity to inform those who comment and those who read the comments.

Build your tone of voice

Hand in hand with being proactive is ensuring your brand’s tone of voice is defined to help clarify how you respond to comments, based on your brand’s personality.

Are you very formal and traditional? Youthful and casual? Is your brand very personal, or more corporate?

You have to be consistent. This should align with existing brand guidelines while considering the tone of the channel.

One thing that we haven’t seen work for NFPs is the comedian-moderator, or brands who use their comment moderation to poke fun at their audience.

Commercial brands can sometimes get away with this, but if you’re purpose-driven, all it will get you is engagement, not trust.

And trust is where NFPs and for-purpose organisations need to focus.

Be strategic in your moderation

It’s important to let senior management and the board know when you’re going live with a campaign and your strategy for dealing with negative comments. It’s not unheard of for campaigns to be pulled in the face of negative comments, so having a response strategy will mitigate that risk.

In some cases, if you see a recurring theme in moderation, you may actively choose to distribute content that directly speaks to this.

An example is the below video we created for Vinnies speaking to the problem of ‘dumping’ unwanted, poor condition items at their stores—a common feature of their comment moderation.

Source: Vinnies Australia / Facebook

If you want more insights on how to use Facebook’s tools during COVID-19, we’re running a webinar with ProBono News on the topic. Register now — places are selling out fast! (If you’re a client of ntegrity, your account manager will reach out to you directly to invite you to attend our FREE private session).