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Content moderation: Don’t wait until the last second

Briant Laslo

The big online promotion, event or contest that your company has been planning is about to go live. Everything is in place. The graphics on the landing page are brilliant. The company branding is subtle and perfectly placed. The advertising has been creative and thorough. Everybody involved knows what to do and when to do it.

Then, someone asks: “What do we do if someone uses profanity on the site?”

And the landslide starts.

“What about pornography? What if members argue? What if a group posts spam?”

This is usually when most people realize the truth: A social media promotion, event or contest can look great to the audience, but if your “backstage” is not properly staffed and equipped to handle content moderation, your reputation can suffer.

Content moderation is frequently the most overlooked aspect of a successful social media project. Whether you are planning an event that lasts a few hours or an ongoing community, moderation needs to be involved from the outset.

The unpredictable will occur. Marketers may assume that a project doesn’t require moderation. But the Internet is unpredictable—and this has only increased with the rise of social media and networking. If your project takes place on the Internet, it will attract interactions that you do not desire. Without proper moderation, one bad seed can disrupt your plans or, worse, completely undo your plans.

The agency is not taking care of it. Most agencies are concerned with making your project look good. An agency knows the type of project planned and the advertising channels that will reach the target market. Agencies ensure that people who visit the site see something interesting. The creation of a system to take care of unwanted user-generated content almost always falls low on the priority list—if it makes the list at all.

The community manager does not have time. Community management is significantly different than content moderation. A community manager normally handles creative aspects of the project and generally do not have time to watch over the website and remove inappropriate content. They do not necessarily know the requirements of a good moderation tool. And due to the developing role structures in social media, community managers often think that the agency will moderate. Without a solid moderation solution in place, your community manager can quickly become overwhelmed, and harmful content left on a site can damage your brand’s reputation.

Social media planning often looks only at the big picture, the shiny graphics or integration of a new technology. As marketers plan a project, it is easy to overlook the infrastructure that holds everything to its course.

Good moderation guidance can maximize the success of your project while minimizing the headaches that can plague social media properties. Don’t let the work of agencies, community managers, designers, advertisers and executives go to waste by overlooking the one thing that can keep your project on course. Involve a specially trained moderation and content management team from the start.

If your website is up and running, and looking great, but is filled with people who are not talking about your company, product or service, then what is it worth?


Briant Laslo, moderation manager at LiveWorld, has been involved with some form of online moderation since 1988, working with a communities ranging from television to banking to packaged goods. He personally has moderated or has managed teams responsible for moderating more than 1 million pieces of content. Contact him at or @BLaslo.

Comments (2)
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Posted Jun 20, 2013 at 12:49 AM

This is a very important point you bring up Briant. The horrible thing can be that the more successful the agency's campaign is--hitting all targets ahead of schedule--the more likely it is to attract content posting that could damage the brand. Sometimes success can be your worst enemy! A Content Moderation piece should be put into place with any solidly realized and envisioned social media marketing campaign.

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Posted Jun 19, 2013 at 04:48 PM

Briant, You're right up there with Anil Dash, whose "If Your Website's Full of Assholes, It's Your Fault" agrees with you on the importance of planning for the butthead brigade that will doubtless descend on your shiny new social thing:

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