Facebook pages give brands an opportunity to build close relationships with consumers; however, they also present new challenges for online community managers. Unlike forum based communities, brands have little real ownership over the platform:  posting is instant, 24 / 7, and pre-moderating is restricted. This means that the risks are higher – and it’s important to be prepared.

Here are our top 5 tips for managing and moderating an online community on Facebook.

1. Use the Facebook tools: You can’t pre-moderate all comments on Facebook; however, you can block profanities; remove posts and ban users or pages.  You can also set up a list of blacklisted keywords that keeps these comments hidden until you have reviewed them. Make sure that your profanity setting screens out any obscene posts; and, use social media monitoring to identify any sensitive terms that you might want to review before the post becomes public.

2. Publish a moderation policy: Having a clear moderation policy can reduce the need to remove posts and also provide a justification, should you need to delete any content. Here are some good examples that tell the community what is acceptable and what is not.

The next web ‘To our fans’

Diabetes UK ‘House Rules’

Topshop ‘Info’

Baileys ‘Terms and Conditions’

3. Know when to delete: Negativity is not always a bad thing and certainly not a reason to automatically censor content. People may post negative comments and it’s important to have a workflow in place to decide what will be deleted and whether an explanation will be provided.

When we’re managing Facebook communities, we delete posts that are offensive, irrelevant or spam. When we get very negative conversation that does not fall outside of the Terms and Conditions, we use other techniques such as asking for the community’s input or direct messaging.

Nestlé’s handling of the Greenpeace Kit Kat campaign and its deletion of Facebook posts demonstrates the risks of a heavy handled deletion policy, so make sure that your reaction is planned and thought through.

4. Know when to ban users: Users and pages can be banned from posting.  We’d only recommend banning users/pages who repeatedly break the Terms and Conditions of your Facebook page; and those considered scammers or spammers. It’s helpful to be aware of your online detractors – but don’t ban them until they have given you reason to do so.

5. Make sure your page is adequately resourced: Are your staff clear about the moderation policy?  Is there an escalation process for any potential risks? What happens out of hours? If you want your online community to succeed and any moderation to be effective, it needs to be properly resourced and you need to act quickly.

These tips have helped us to successfully manage Facebook communities for international brands, but what do you think? Are there any tips that you’d add into the mix?

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