Best Practices to Moderate Conversation on Digital Platforms
Content creation and curation can be incredibly time consuming for small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations. In a work environment with time constraints, it can be challenging to carve out time to manage the ensuing conversation once you click publish.
Who is commenting on your blog or social media posts? What is their intent? Is it aligned with your communication goals? When should you delete comments? These are all questions that community managers encounter when monitoring responses to outgoing content.
There are challenges with deleting comments – depending on the person/comment it may only exacerbate the issue. Holding an internal discussion about what will prompt your organization to delete a comment and publically stating that on your platform is important to maintaining a cohesive and supportive community.
Any comments that are clearly spam and trying to get your readers to click on their link, which is not related to the blog piece or social media post can be deleted. This helps ensure that your readers don’t accidentally download a virus and get caught in a phishing scam.
There are also subtler forms of spam that can be challenging to determine if they’re legitimate or not. We are challenged with this issue on our own blog. At times people may post a comment that seems related to our content but is actually driving readers to a link that is potentially harmful. These may need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you delete something that a legitimate commenter wrote and they contact you, often a simple explanation of why you thought it was spam could help defuse hostility they may be feeling.
Open hostility is something that you can face from other commenters. It’s important to determine what is acceptable and what will be automatically deleted. Any comments that are offensive, bigoted, or contain inappropriate language should be deleted by your moderator.
Negative but non-offensive comments or individuals attempting to “troll” your organization is harder to combat. Deleting these comments can often make an issue worse. It is important to use these conversations to create a healthy dialogue about the issue and attempt to fix it. If a reader seems to be purposefully antagonizing the writer or organization, sometimes your community will step in and attempt to deal with the trolling behavior.
It is critical to always remain positive and optimistic in your communication. While responding with an amusing insult or quip is very tempting – it will almost always make the situation worse. You are responsible for maintain civility even in the wake of overwhelming negativity.
Rewarding Good Behavior
A great way to encourage your community to develop is to reward positive comments or communication. The following are ways in which you can reward the readers who took the time to support your content:
Facebook – Like their comment. While this can set up a dangerous precedent, as you have to decide if any comments are not worthy of being liked, it an extremely positive way to reward the people that leave positive comments on your Facebook Posts.
Twitter – Favorite and/or ReTweet. Retweeting is the best way to highlight someone’s positive response to something you shared on Twitter. If you’re concerned that the number of tweets that you’re producing is too high than you can just favorite their tweet. The new Twitter design gives favorited tweets a more prominent place when looking at an individual or organization’s Twitter account.
Blog – Respond to comments. If someone asks a question or provides a thoughtful comment to a blog post, be sure to reply to the comment. It helps your community understand that you support this discussion and subtly encourages people to take a more active role in commenting on your blog.
All platforms –Thank your supporters. Thank often. If a Facebook post generates a lot of positive comments, likes, and shares than post a comment that thanks everyone for their thoughts and shares. Some nonprofits thank their followers that retweet content with a special message at the end of the day/week. People like to be thanked and it always helps to ensure that users know you’re paying attention to the conversation.
These are some of the ways to handle the negative and positive aspects of managing your community. This seems like an excellent time to thank all of readers who comment in our blog and share our content on social media platforms. We greatly enjoy our work and being supported by our friends, colleagues, and even strangers has been an amazing and rewarding experience.
If you’re looking for a further reading, we recommend these links:
- NTEN interviewed Allyson Kapin, Co-founder of Rad Campaign, about their recent survey assessing online harassment of adults.
- Patrick Sullivan of the Nonprofit Times discusses the recent publishing of the 2015 Digital Outlook Report from Care2, NTEN and hjc. An increased focus in video and images is anticipated in 2015.
- What can nonprofits learn from Phish? Apparently a lot! Suzy Greenberg of M+R shares four lessons from Phish including a mention of of our friends at Giving Comfort.
- Ariana Eunjung Cha of the Washington Post interviews Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and chat about philanthropy in Silicon Valley.
- Can a change.org petition change Facebook’s algorythem for nonprofits? Ernie Smith of Associations Now details the issue and criticism of Facebook.