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MARCH 28, 2011
HOW TO WIN THE BATTLE WITH EFFECTIVE MODERATION
INTRODUCTION a. Methodology UNDERSTANDING SPAM
TABLE OF CONTENTS
III. IDENTIFYING SPAM IV. DOES UNWANTED USER GENERATED CONTENT EFFECT EVERY PAGE? V. SUMMARY
VI. BEST PRACTICES: MODERATION a. Defining Your Brand’s Social Identity and Engagement Approach b. Establishing the Rules of Engagement c. Blocking and Tackling with Facebook Filters d. Facebook Filters Options e. Monitor Your Spam Activity f. Consider a Moderation Tool g. Understanding the Power of Word Lists h. Tips for Creating Word Lists/Blocklists
Brands and businesses today are embracing the necessity of having a presence in social networking. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, others, all of the above or a combination of the above, 2-way dialogues are forming between companies and the
Facebook posts and comments. using Facebook and Twitter,
consumers and clients who love them or who may one day fall in love with them. Good things come from it;
H O W C A N Y O U P O S S I B LY M O N I TO R A N D E V I C T S PA M S O YO U R FA N S D O N ’ T G E T
F R U S T R A T E D
AND STOP FOLLOWING YOU?
Closing up your social shop because it’s too big a job isn’t an option. That ship has sailed. First of all, it’s nice to know just what you’re facing. What kind of spam is this? Is it the same as email spam? Does the size of your page have anything to do with your vulnerability? Just how fast is this kind of spam spreading? We did some of the recon intelligence for you! METHODOLOGY We examined two months of raw data from brands and fans across Vitrue’s client base from October 1, 2010 to November 30, 2010. Using that, we were able to find patterns in spam activity across over 2,500 Facebook Pages and outline five best practices for moderating your content to make sure your social media presence is a real pleasure for your fans.
L O YA LT Y, F E E D B A C K , B R A N D AWA R E N E SS , A N D N E W FA N S .
From your end, you get to share company news, new products, comment on what your customers are saying, conduct customer service, launch promotions and events, and make special social network offers. It’s the best of marketing strategies principally because these customers want what you’re giving them. But…there is something that can spoil the experience for them, and undermine your positive marketing efforts. Meet spam. No, not “meat” spam. Be aware of spam and it’s awesome powers to foul all things positive in social network marketing. It’s a bigger beast than the unwanted posts and junk email we’ve grappled with over the past 10+ years. It’s mutated into something more insidious creeping onto what should be entertaining and informative
While maybe not as scary as car-jacking, like-jacking doesn’t sound like anything you would want to happen to you. It is the hijacking of the “like” button
SIMPLE IS GOOD, SO LET’S MAKE THINGS SIMPLE.
you will find on most brands’ digital assets. You definitely want it there because it helps your fans spread the word about you and what you are posting. Status spam can be automatic or “bot” comments/posts on your Pages wall and images. The spammer uses the bot application to embed a link on a wall, news feed or comment stream that has
a spam link. That link redirects your fan to another
URL or web page promoting…who-knows-what. Of course, as wary Page administrators, we also see comments from “real” fans that feel like spam is outright objectionable. Yes, open two-way communication is the order of the day on social
S P A M FLOATING AROUND:
FACEBOOK “LIKE-JACKING,” AND STATUS SPAM ON FACEBOOK .
networks. But cursing, insulting other fans, religious indoctrination, over-the-top nasty complaints about your product…these are things everybody can do without. It can be difficult to ride that fine line between openness and controlling the…let’s call them the “passion-challenged.”
EVER NOTICE YOU DON’T SEE ANYONE WALKING AROUND IN T-SHIRTS THAT SAY “#1 SPAMMER” ON THEM?
That’s because spam likes to lurk around. But they give themselves away in a post or comment in a couple of ways. Look for bold headlines like “FREE Mortgages if you apply now!” with a link after it that doesn’t include any kind of recognizable brand name. The link may also be a repeat of the headline, like freemortgages.com.
Image 1: Recognizing Spam
But identifying and dealing with objectionable posts in real-time is challenging. You don’t have to have a huge Fan Page for this to be a problem either, though you certainly have more users to deal with. Every brand’s image is affected by unwanted posts or spam.
A breakdown of Fan posts and comments removed from Pages over a 60 day period in 2010 showed that 39%, the majority of material removed, was removed because it contained a link. Swearing made up 28% of total removed content. The graphic below shows you the breakdown of reasons posts and comments were removed.
C AT E G O R I E S O F R E A S O N S POSTS AND COMMENTS WERE REMOVED
Source: Vitrue Publisher
OF THE CATEGORIES OF CURSE WORDS REMOVED, 46% WERE SWEAR WORDS USED BY FANS. ONLY 19% OF THE WORDS REMOVED INCLUDED INCLUDED SPAM LINKS, AND 17% WERE DEROGATORY TOWARD OTHER FANS OR BRANDS ON THE PAGE.
C AT E G O R I E S O F R E M O V E D W O R D S
F O R R E CO G N I Z I N G S PA M L I N K S :
“facebook.com” are self-promoting or spam related. You should probably flag these as spam.
Links that use shorteners like
bit.ly are often spam if there is no legitimate content along with it, meaning just the link by itself.
Source: Vitrue Publisher
DOES UNWANTED USER GENERATED CONTENT EFFECT EVERY PAGE?
It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 or 10,000,000 fans, unwanted comments and spam are going to require your attention or create a problem for you. Big or small, it is every brand’s responsibility to protect its image and make their social network Page a place where your fans are comfortable and can enjoy themselves.
UNWANTED POSTS AND COMMENTS GRAVITATE TO LARGER COMMUNITIES
SPAM REMOVED FROM PAGES SMALL
< 100K FANS
> 1M FANS
Image 4: Unwanted Posts and Comments by Fan Page Size
Source: Vitrue Publisher
S O M E B R A N D P A G E S H AV E T R I E D B LO C K I N G A L L FA N WA L L P O S T S O N T H E I R PA G E
as a preemptive strike to avoid spam and unwanted comments. Amazingly, even with that scorched earth approach,
In fact, the number of spam comments those Pages are experiencing is actually higher than spam volume on Pages that allow Fan wall posts. S O ,
T H AT S T R AT E G Y
ISN’T GOING TO BE THE ANSWER.
FA N S A N D
S PA M B OT S A R E S T I L L A B L E TO GET UNWANTED POSTS THROUGH.
PA G E S T H AT D O N ’ T A L L O W FA N S TO P O S T T O T H E I R W A L L H AV E
Pages allowing fan posts
N E A R LY 2 X
A S MANY COMMENTS REMOVED THAN THE O N E S T H AT D O.
Pages blocking fan posts
Image 5: Blocking all Fan Posts in an Attempt to Reduce Unwanted Posts and Comments Source: Vitrue Publisher
Below is an example of a brand Page with less than 1,000 fans that blocks Fan wall posts, but is still getting spam in the form of a link posted in the comments that takes visitors to another site.
Image 6: “Small” Brand Page with Spam Links as Part of Comments Source: Facebook.com/urbanbodyfitness
If you’re going to wander in the social networking woods, you’re bound to encounter the Big Bad spam and unwanted comments. Our monitoring of their growth over a 60 day period shows us the number of wall posts and Fan comments is growing.
Just like the bees in the trees, spam is always going to be part of the social networking environment because
UNWANTED POSTS AND COMMENTS AREA GROWING FACTOR
that environment is transparent and accessible. Sure there’ll be new security enhancements and advancements that come along, but there will never be a time when you don’t have to keep an eye on and actively manage your pages and
monthly growth in spam as a % of comments
adjust your battle plan. We’ll go over some of the most effective methods next in “Best Practices: Moderation.”
monthly growth in spam as a % of posts
DECEMBER 2009 OCTOBER 2010
Image 7: Growth of Unwanted Content Via Posts and Comments
STEP 1: DEFINING YOUR BRAND’S SOCIAL IDENTITY AND ENGAGEMENT APPROACH
BEST PRACTICES: MODERATION
Defining your brand’s social identity is paramount to the success of your brand overall. Is your brand the Or casual, social butterfly of shopping or restaurants? or insurance?
are you the by-the-book authority on financial services The online social space operates pretty much the same way as the real world social space.
YOUR BRAND’S SOCIAL SUCCESS D E P E N D S O N H O W C A R E F U L LY Y O U E S TA B L I S H A N D P R E S E N T I T S I D E N T I T Y.
How you moderate posts and comments is a reflection of your brand and Page identity, just like your messaging strategy. Take the time to determine what style and tone you want to use so it’s consistent with your brand’s identity. Are you going to be the permissive grandparent, or the teacher who never gives anyone a break? You can use native Facebook features like the “info” tab to set the rules of engagement for your Fans. This gives them a heads-up and makes them aware in advance of what is and isn’t acceptable on your Page. It will also give Fans a guideline to go by so they can alert you to others who are breaking the rules so that unwanted content can be quickly removed.
STEP 2: E STAB LI S HI N G T H E R UL ES OF E NG AGE M E N T
Laying down the law and making everyone aware of the rules will set the tone for you Page right from the start. Make these rules as clear as you can right there on your Page so fewer Fans can give you the “Duh, I didn’t know” argument. Also, let Fans know what the repercussions will be if they break those rules. How tough you want to be is entirely up to you. Keep thinking about your brand as you’re coming up with these rules. Remember you’re giving your brand a personality, and how you interact with Fans where the rules are concerned will go a long way in letting them know who you are. Write the rules out in your voice, in your own conversational style.
BE PROUD OF YOUR ONLINE SELF!
Image 8: Community Guidelines Example — AMC Theatres
STEP 3: BLOCKING AND TACKLING WITH FACEBOOK FILTERS
If you need to block a troublesome Fan or user from your Page, just log in to Facebook to do so. We recommend blocking repeat offenders from your Page to eliminate spam and negative content going forward.
Image 9: Facebook Filters Options
BASED ON THE TYPE OF PAGE ABUSE A FAN HAS COMMITTED, PICK ONE OF THE FOLLOWING NATIVE FACEBOOK OPTIONS TO BAN THEM. REMOVE POST: This removes the single post from the Page. This doesn’t mean the comment was negative or inflammatory. Maybe you want to remove it because it has nothing to do with what your Page is about. Be careful using this option. You don’t want to upset anyone who was posting with good intentions. REMOVE POST AND BAN USER: Uh oh, somebody is no longer welcome! Using this option removes the offending post and prevents that user from any further posts. The Fan will still be able to see the content, they just won’t be able to interact. Use this only if you have to…it’s pretty extreme. REPORT AS ABUSE: Sometimes it’s okay to squeal. This reports the user’s abusive actions to the Facebook team. MARK AS SPAM: This will mark a post as spam and remove it. You will not be able to come back and ban the user from posting on the Page, because the post will be gone.
BLOCKING USERS FROM WITHIN A POST
If a user makes an inappropriate comment in the comment thread of a post, you may want to remove the comment, remove the comment and ban the user, mark the comment as spam, or report the comments as abusive.
Image 10: Facebook Post Filter Options
You will be presented with several different options to describe the inflammatory content that you have reported. This pane will also give you the opportunity to permanently ban the user from your page and remove all content that they have posted.
Image 11: Facebook Filters — Report a Post
STEP 4: MONITOR YOUR SPAM ACTIVITY
Once you’re posting frequently and getting a lot of posts and comments in return, it’s important that you monitor trends you see in spam or unwanted content.
STEP 5: CONSIDER A MODERATION TOOL
Establishing a process-oriented system for moderating comments is your ticket to success for moderation of your brand Page 27/7. If you have several admins, we recommend you put together a formal response strategy for moderating posts and comments. Along with that, consider a moderation tool that will get you automatic rule setting and notification. Below are some suggestions for setting up a moderation workflow and the benefits of moderation.
DOES IT HAPPEN ON A PARTICULAR DAY OF THE WEEK? DOES IT HAPPEN AT A CERTAIN TIME OF DAY? IS THERE ONE SECTION OF YOUR CONTENT THAT TENDS TO ATTRACT THESE KINDS OF COMMENTS?
Sure, a great deal of spam is random where content, day and time are concerned, but you’ll probably find legitimate Fan content that violates your policies isn’t so random. Let’s say you made a big announcement or did a product roll-out. Someone might seize that attentiongetting day to go on and rake you over the coals. It’s their little way of getting noticed by the most people possible.
• • •
Put together a team of people that can review and
respond to issues Fans have quickly and proactively. Make sure your team is providing positive interactions
and conversations. Email notifications can identify and assign team
members to specific kinds of moderated comments. For instance, product complaints go to customer service, questions about a promotion go to marketing, etc.
Organize and set up “Word” lists. This will automate
and deliver notifications to the appropriate team members rather than having each one going over the Page with a fine tooth comb for content they’re responsible for monitoring, or having to find and notify the appropriate team member to handle the issue.
UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF WORD LISTS
Earlier this year, Facebook introduced the idea of a “Spam” folder and started automatically grabbing posts and comments classified as “spam” by the all-knowing Facebook algorithm that was built just for that purpose. Earlier this month, they added a profanity filter and moderation blocklist (which is a commaseparated list of words to be labeled as “spam” and eliminated). Brands can eliminate a lot of stress and worry knowing these swear words and unwanted comments are being caught and automatically removed. This option is especially great for single-admin Pages who want to watch out for certain keywords. But larger brands with multiple Page admins should probably use a moderation and messaging tool such as Vitrue Publisher. With Vitrue Publisher, you can create multiple word lists and email notifications for a more streamlined operation. Vitrue Publisher also allows for moderation on comments on images or other content. These kinds of lists and filters are the foundation for you moderation plan. In a nutshell, Vitrue Publisher lets you make lists of words that will be automatically flagged or zapped by the Vitrue moderation system- as opposed to Facebook’s native moderation, which only allows for autoremoval. The great thing about these lists is they help you get rid of time-intensive and hit or miss manual moderation. Once your Word Lists are set up, you can configure what actions you want the moderation system to take. Flag it? Delete it? Warn somebody about it? No problem.
SOME EXAMPLES OF COMMON USES FOR WORD LISTS AND BLOCKLISTS:
• • • • • • • •
Profane and offensive language Common phrases used in spam URLs and common spam URLs (such as shortened URLs) Competitor mentions Campaign related terms Customer service or legal issues (words like “complaint” or “contract”) Crisis management and recalls Sentiment monitoring (flagging words like “love,” “hate,” “cool,” or “awful.”)
UNDERSTAND BRAND AND
A mild amount of
F O R W O R D
C R E AT I N G
L I S T S / B L O C K L I S T S
A C T I V E LY C U R A T E YOUR LISTS
If you notice a spam campaign on your Page or another pages on Facebook, add those words, phrases, and URLs to your Word List. Before every major campaign, go back and re-examine all the words, phrases and URLs that are being moderated so they line up with your objectives. Spammers are nothing if not innovative and aggressive, so you’ll have to always be on the case to stay one step ahead of them.
P R O FA N I T Y M I G H T B E O K AY F O R YO U R B R A N D.
That’s your call. If so, you’ll want to pick and choose which words you’re going to let fly. If your brand has a multilingual fan base, you might want to create your lists in multiple languages.
Posts using the words “like me”, “friend me” or “free” are often spam.
Continually review your page and add new spam key words and phrases as spam trends emerge. Phrases like “call me” or “email me” might be helpful to flag or monitor
since these are likely tied to spam posts
Based on what kind of Page you have,
SET EMAIL NOTIFIC ATIONS ( V I T R U E P U B L I S H E R ) :
If there’s an option to get email notifications for flagged or removed comments, you might want to make sure that email goes to whatever email account you’re in front of the most. Of course, this could also mean more emails pouring into your inbox than you want. So you may want to set up a separate email account and dedicated email address solely for these monitoring emails. This feature is a nice thing to have for keeping an eye on sentiment in real time during new initiatives or campaigns. You can watch out for mentions of your competitor and give your moderator the means to evaluate and get rid of unwanted comments asap. Once you’re getting an email notification every time one of your listed words is used, you can make decisions on a case-by-case basis, taking exactly what was said and the context into consideration.
YO U C A N AUTO-REMOVE WORDS, PHRASES AND U R L S T H AT MIGHT BE A D E T R I M E N T.
Be careful when using this feature. You don’t want to unintentionally blow out valuable fan content.
M U LT I - L A N G U A G E
L I S T S :
ABOUT 70% OF FACEBOOK USERS ARE OUTSIDE THE US .
Brands with a strong global presence and US brands with a multi-lingual target audience should have Word Lists with commonly used profanity in French, Spanish, or the language most related to your Fan page audience. For instance, if some of your admin team moderate multilanguage streams, they may want to color code words and phrases that are common in other languages.
ERIKA J. BROOKES
Vice President of Marketing Vitrue Erika Jolly Brookes is the vice president, marketing for Vitrue, the leading provider of social media publishing technology that provides businesses with the power to manage, message and moderate their presence on social networks. Erika joined MindSpring enterprises in 1995 as director, product marketing, focused on the end-to-end customer experience. From 1997-1999, Erika was the vice president, product marketing for MindSpring Enterprises and launched innovative services such as Spaminator & broadband. From 2000-2006, Mrs. Brookes was vice president, brand strategy & product marketing, and contributed to growing Earthlink’s total awareness to 60% of US households and its customers to five million. Mrs. Brookes led the launch of new product features such as, high speed, Pop Up Blocker & Accelerator. From 2006-2008, Erika managed the marketing and product as well as revenue forecasting for an EarthLink business unit that generated revenue from value added product sales, advertising and search. As vice president, marketing from 2008-2009, Mrs. Brookes ran all aspects of marketing including brand, media, marketing services and loyalty efforts. Before joining Vitrue in May 2010, Erika was the vice president, sales & marketing for Jungle Disk (a division of Rackspace), a SaaS cloud-based data backup targeted at small to medium-sized businesses. During her tenure, she re-launched the Jungle Disk brand targeted at small business and doubled customer growth. Mrs. Brookes earned a BS in Business Administration from Berry College and has completed post-graduate executive level education in finance and marketing.
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