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You need to moderate your social media to save your brand explains Tempero’s MD Dominic Sparkes

I’m blown away by the opportunities social media offer businesses to start meaningful conversations with users to help sell products, improve service, and increase loyalty. But many companies are forgetting social media moderation is an essential consideration for keeping your most important asset safe from harm... your brand.

There’s an excellent quote from founder Jeff Bezos which says “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.” If your brand reputation is worth say 10 per cent of its total value, then surely it's worth investing in saving it?

Moderation is more than just deleting comments. Every brand should undertake a risk assessment before setting up on social media channels.

Here is a social media risk assessment checklist for brands:

1. Your demographic: What content is/isn’t appropriate for them? (including user-generated content).

2. Your product or message: Is it high risk?

3. Industry codes: Are you regulated? For example the Portman Group guidelines promote age verification, the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for adverse event reporting.

4. User protection: Are you equipped to protect privacy, data, and children?

5. Scalability: What happens when your campaign goes nuclear? Can you defend yourself against spam attacks?

6. Escalation: When are negative issues escalated and to whom?

7. Tools available: What software or human resource is in place to help you find and manage content?

8. Software or human resource: What resource is in place to help you find and manage content?

Traditionally, there are three types of moderation; pre, post, and reactive, but increasingly social media platforms and the nature of the real-time web, are narrowing the options available. For example, there is no ability to pre-moderate in Facebook moderation. So, if you are at risk of inappropriate content being posted you’d need regular monitoring and swift take-down procedures. You might even wish to invest in additional software to help you manage checking the sheer volume of content submitted to the page. Likewise reporting and blocking users is not easily managed on every social platform.

But smart moderation of social media is also about understanding the nature of the community you manage. A pre-moderated wiki would defeat the purpose of using one in the first place and user outrage at this basic mistake could damage the brand from establishing an authentic social media presence.

Even though I work in social media management, I don’t always advocate professional moderation. Again, this comes back to the initial risk assessment you should undertake before setting up any presence in social media – what level of brand protection do you require? Working back from that answer will outline what your requirements are and how to deliver them.

One final thought: it’s not all about you. How are you benefiting your community? Data protection and child safety are still massively overlooked by many brands, even simple issues like spam can alienate an engaged fan base very quickly.

Many brands aren’t personally bothered about quality control of user-generated content on their social media channels, but some recent analysis found that brands which managed their Facebook communities and engaged were more successful than those who didn’t.

Dominic Sparkes, managing director of social media management company Tempero.

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