Don’t Feed The Trolls: Capitalising On Breaking News Without Worsening Comment Culture

Don’t Feed The Trolls: Capitalising On Breaking News Without Worsening Comment Culture

In this guest post, Quiip’s social media strategist Amber Robinson (pictured below) offers her top tips if your social media has fallen foul of the dreaded online troll…

It’s an eternal dilemma for online publishers. Journalists need to cover controversial stories because of public interest, which drives clicks. These stories need to be posted to social media with a compelling headline so that the post attracts comments, which leads to higher ranking in the social media algorithm, which leads to more comments.

Amber Robinson - Social Media Strategist Quiip

Brands have jumped on the trend too, by ‘newsjacking’ certain events to create topical content for their channels.

Lots of comments means high engagement, which is great – except that these comments are frequently abusive to other commenters, offensive or discriminatory. Sometimes they incite violence or make comments which break defamation and contempt of court laws. This is a huge concern now that Australian courts have found page owners – rather than Facebook – responsible for said comments.

This new regulatory environment demands a new look at existing moderation practices. Alongside ensuring comments are being properly monitored, there are a few other tactics brands and publishers can try to encourage better comments (and discourage bad ones.)

  1. Use the profanity filter and banned words list

Facebook allows you to upload a .csv file of every swear word you can think of, as well as sexist and racist slurs, which will lead to comments being automatically hidden. Even regular words which might relate to a high-profile legal case can be added ad-hoc, which will help problematic comments be hidden so that a moderator can review them.

  1. Try to contain the outrage in fewer posts

To make it easier to keep an eye on trending topics, consider an open thread or post to encourage members to comment on the issue. If you need to post new updates about the story, continue to encourage users to go back to the open thread to comment. You can also edit the text of your open thread with updates about the story, to keep everything in one place.

Bookmark the URL for posts which need close moderation and ensure your whole social team has access to it.

  1. Use the carrot-and-stick approach

You are responsible for setting the culture of your Page and comments section. By rewarding considered, polite, clever and humorous comments with likes and replies, you’re setting an example for the standard of comment you expect. Consider reaching out to your top fans with special deals, invite them to join user testing groups or even join your moderation team. This will build a strong community culture of people who are loyal to your brand.

Likewise, hiding comments which break your rules (please tell me your Page has rules!), adding problematic Page fans to a watch list and judiciously swinging your banhammer will all help keep your comments sections an enjoyable place to be.

  1. Aim to incite a conversation with your posts – not a war

Avoid editorialising, i.e., posting your opinion instead of just the information in the story. Let your readers decide what they think about it. Likewise, sensationalising information or mocking the person your post is about is poor form and is likely to incite a negative reaction.  

  1. Post light and shade

Think about the emotions your posts are likely to inspire and aim for a balance of heart-warming, humorous and informative posts to balance-out posts, which inspire fear, sadness or anger. Constant negative posts will attract the wrong people to the Page and repel fans who are don’t feel welcome or safe.

Taking a few hours to review and adjust your community strategy will help protect your brand from legal risks, while also encouraging a better culture for new and existing followers.

If you’re not sure where to get started, pay a visit to the Australian Community Managers (ACM) Code of Ethics. These established standards of practice aim to guide Community Managers when acting on behalf of their organisation, and in the interests of their communities.

This is a potent time for social media and we all have a crucial role to play.

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Amber Robinson quiip

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