What good moderation is and why you need it so badly

Content design in social media channels is often (and should be!) combined with the moderation of the contact with the audience. After all, fans and followers on our Facebook and Instagram profiles want not only to receive content but also to say what’s on their minds. And if they speak, they expect there to be someone on the other side who will respond. Not necessarily a bot. Not necessarily a pre-set, automatic response.

If you look up the verb “to moderate” in a dictionary, you’re likely to find out that it may mean “make certain that the rules of an internet discussion are not broken”. The moderator will therefore be the person who ensures that the discussion proceeds properly and communication standards are maintained. They can delete abusive comments and ignore irrelevant remarks. Nevertheless, wherever possible, they should engage in the exchange of views, not only positioning themselves as an expert and a well-prepared person representing the brand, one knowledgeable in the subject matter, but also someone who supports the discussion.

What are the benefits of well-moderated communication with the audience?

  1. It certainly shortens the distance between the brand and the potential customer, giving the relationship a personal, individual touch. It's not a bad idea to address fans/followers by their first names (but without using diminutives!), e.g. “Hello, Gregory. We’re pleased to hear that you're interested in our product, etc...." The audience member gains the sense that they aren’t “a grain of sand in an hourglass”, but an individual being whose problem has been taken notice of.

  2. Showing the human face of the brand. Communication with the audience member should give them the comfort of being taken care of, but also – through the casual tone inherent in the very nature of social media – let them know that there’s a human being on the other side. This person will address the problem by looking at its substance but will also, when necessary, defuse the tension of the communication process with some humour and directness.

  3. There’s a good chance that the brand will be recommended to others. When well looked after, the audience member is satisfied. On more than one occasion, I’ve come across a situation where a company has been given a high rating even though the transaction has not been completed. Sometimes the mere fact that a fan/follower's doubts have been addressed means their positive impressions are then shared with the world.

  4. It’s a chance to present yourself and carry out image-building activities that will show your brand in the best possible light. Every doubt, question, and suggestion is a unique opportunity to show the brand – its philosophy, the way it works, and the values that make it stand out in the market. (Suffice it to say that I know of content creators who ask themselves questions from other accounts to have the opportunity to answer them. Funny, huh?)

  5. Last but not least – confrontation with the brand’s weaknesses. Each has them, none likes to hear about them. But sometimes it’s worth it as listening to criticism is a prerequisite for development. Covering your ears and humming loudly only works in the short term and does little besides cultivating blissful ignorance.

Who’s worth watching for inspiration?

Certainly, McDonald's – the moderation there maintains a consistently high standard, although I miss the wit, such as that generated in considerable amounts by Biedronka moderators. If you ask me, I'm a fan of the way communication with the audience is handled on the profile of the Portuguese food discount chain, and on more than one occasion I've sent screenshots of its content to my family and friends so that they, too, enjoy their playful tone.