1. Know your audience.
The more you know about your users, the more you can hone your specific moderating criteria. You may have a niche market with unique needs. Our standard moderating criteria might be too conservative for your brand culture, or you may wish to further tighten rules. Also consider the size of your audience. Look at your current metrics and consider the intended volume of UGC on your site. Will your audience be more likely to submit content in the morning or evening? Do you need overnight moderation?
By engaging with your community and their content around your campaign, you are nurturing ambassadors for your brand. And it’s no secret that user recommendations have a significant influence on buyer behavior. Therefore, find the line between protecting your brand and encouraging users to express themselves. UGC is a valuable source of information that merits your time to encourage and curate. Your moderation criteria should be nuanced, and incoming content should be evaluated and used to continually evolve your guidelines.
2. Know your limits.
Content moderation takes time. Users love immediate gratification when posting, but the method that works for your budget and staff may not allow for that. Fast return time on submissions could mean a larger moderation team and, thus, a larger budget. Are you moderating in-house, or using a company? The success of your UGC campaign is important, of course, but so is the safety of your brand’s reputation and your users. You’ll have to balance your budget against user expectations.
Can you implement some drop down menus, so users still have the ability to select answers but don’t have as much free range to add their own potentially inappropriate content? Users’ creativity will be more limited, but it’s preferable to damaging your brand with lax moderation.
3. Brainstorm vulnerabilities.
While planning your UGC campaign, think about all of the possibilities for negative user content. Try to think like the “bad guy.” Anticipating issues in advance protects not only your brand, but your users, ensuring that creative, passionate content contributors keep participating and sharing their perspective. Thinking through potential issues will make your moderation plan more specific and you’ll be better prepared to stop unwanted content.Take the example of Boaty McBoatface. A British government agency invited users suggest names for a polar research ship. Rather than a stately name befitting the scientific significance of a ship worth hundreds of millions of dollars, users crashed the agency’s polling site with enthusiastic votes for…Boaty McBoatface. We hope user expectations were set in advance that the suggestions were for fun, and the ship’s name wasn’t necessarily at the mercy of an internet whim.
4. Plan ahead.
Consider your budget, acceptable criteria for your brand, and the volume of UGC you expect. This would be a good time to consult an expert in the field, if possible. Using those pieces, decide how you’ll moderate content before you launch your site, app, or campaign. As your campaign progresses, new issues will arise that you didn’t anticipate. Take the time to adjust your content moderation plan. It should evolve as you become more familiar with the varying types of content your users are submitting. UGC moderation failures can make a mess that’s difficult, if not impossible, to clean up. Embarrassing posts that slip through the cracks often live on screenshots, blogs, and articles, even after they’re deleted. The good news is that a thoughtful moderation plan can prevent a brand crisis before the campaign even begins.
5. Let your audience in on your rules.
Engage with your users, answer questions, and be up front about types of content that exemplify your brand. Essentially, you’ll be sharing with your users the basics of the moderation rules you’ve put into place, and strengthening the bond between your brand and your customers
Your audience understands your company, your products, and your customers. Their recommendations mean more to other users than any copy you could ever write, and their posts expand your brand’s reach. Inspire a mindset of loyalty by creating an open dialogue. Develop a plan for monitoring and regulation, and then stick to it. When your users know what to expect and trust that you’ll deliver, you’ll foster passionate users who produce invaluable content.