Moderating an online community can be tricky. While social media moderation is necessary, it needs to be done with as light of a touch as possible. The key to effectively managing any given situation is knowing when to step in to moderate a conversation and when you should just let nature take its course, so to speak. As Justin mentioned in this week’s lecture, social media sites, ultimately, belong to their users not to their community managers. According to NPR’s Ethics Handbook, “we do not impose ourselves on such sites. We are guests and behave as such.” In order to get the most out of social media, we need to understand these communities and treat those we encounter online, regardless of whether what they’re saying is positive or negative, with the utmost respect and courtesy that we’d show people we encounter offline.
This week, we’ve been tasked with moderating the following sample customer comments. We are to assume that they were left on our company’s Facebook page.
To a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”
My response: Hello, (Insert customer name here). Thank you for taking the time to provide us your feedback. We are sorry to hear about your unpleasant dining experience at our restaurant. At (Insert name of restaurant), we pride ourselves on excellent service, one-of-a-kind cuisine and cleanliness. Messy tables are not acceptable. Please be assured that we have spoken with our staff to ensure that this will be not happen again. I’d like to personally invite you to try our restaurant again the next time you’re in our neck of the woods. When you come, please make sure to ask for Lynette. I would love to meet you in person.
To a mainstream news network: “Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.” (Let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)
My response: Hello, (Insert customer name here). Thank you for taking the time to listen to our news segment about the Middle East and provide us with your feedback. At (Insert name of mainstream news network), we do our best to ensure that our reporting is as balanced as possible, making sure we give equal air time to both sides of every issue we discuss on our network. Please know that we value your feedback and have passed your comments on to our team manager. If you have additional feedback in the future, please feel free to email us directly at (Insert email address here).
Although each of my replies were for different types of situations, I structured them very similarly. In each, I thanked the customer for their feedback, apologized for the poor experience they had, touched on our company’s values and invited them to leave additional feedback. While there is no magic formula for moderating comments on social media, I find that this way is a pretty standard and effective way to handle customer/viewer complaints, as it demonstrates empathy and honesty.