What is Content Moderation?

For brands that have built a presence on social media, growing that presence may be a top priority. However, what’s equally important is maintaining a consistent image and ensuring you don’t lose that presence you’ve worked so hard to build. This is why online content moderation is crucial because the activity on your brand’s social media pages could have an impact.

But what is content moderation really? And what is its purpose in the context of social media? In this guide, we provide you with an in-depth look at what content moderation is and how to carry it out on social media. Let’s dive in.

What is Content Moderation? Ultimate Guide for Social Media Moderation in 2022:

What Is Content Moderation?

Content moderation is the process of monitoring whether content submitted to a website complies with the site’s rules and guidelines and is suitable to appear on the site. It involves setting rules and guidelines that all content appearing on the site must abide by and filtering out anything that’s deemed harmful, sensitive, or inappropriate. 

Essentially, content moderation helps to ensure that the content published on the site is not illegal, inappropriate, harassing, or harmful to others. It’s commonly used in websites that rely heavily on content generated by users such as forums, social media platforms, dating sites, and online marketplaces.

What Is Content Moderation for Social Media?

In the context of social media, content moderation is the process of reviewing and managing user-generated content on your brand’s social media page. Also called social media moderation, this could involve responding to comments made by users or sometimes reporting or removing posts and comments if they don’t comply with your brand’s guidelines. 

The Importance of Social Media Moderation

Social media content moderation is crucial for brands that want to maintain a consistent image and create a safe online community for their audience. There are a number of reasons why content moderation should be a top priority in your brand’s social media strategy.

The Importance of Social Media Moderation

Identifying Urgent Issues

Whether it’s a typo in your caption or a broken link in your ad, social media users are quick to point out issues that need immediate fixing. Moreover, spikes in negative comments could also reveal bigger issues related to your brand and/or its products. Moderating comments is a great way to identify urgent issues and resolve them before things escalate. 

Safeguarding Your Community

Once you’ve built a social media community of loyal fans and followers, you’d want to do everything to protect the community. This could be from blatantly harmful actions like hate speech and discriminatory language or it could be from spam and scams. 

Scammers may be prowling the comment section for vulnerable people who may be in search of deals and discounts. Or they could comment about quick ways to make money or solve a certain problem like in the following example. 



They could then target them by asking for personally identifiable information, which could then be used maliciously. Content moderation helps you detect these harmful or hateful comments and manage them effectively.

Controlling Your Brand Image

The comments on your brand’s social media page are a reflection of your brand image. So whether you agree with it or not, permitting hate speech or discriminatory language in your comments section reflects poorly on your brand. People are going to associate your brand with those comments, which means that your brand image could be permanently scathed.

Moreover, negative comments about your brand also reflect poorly on your brand, especially if those comments are pointing out the same issue such as undelivered orders or unresponsive customer support teams. Situations like the following in which a customer agrees with a negative comment from another customer could leave a bad impression on many potential and existing customers.



Keeping Unauthorized Selling in Check

Large brands may often fall victim to counterfeiting and unauthorized reselling. And counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers could use your social media comments section to find potential buyers. Moderating your comments is crucial to keep those attempts in check and ensure that you don’t lose out on sales to competitors.

Ensuring Information Accuracy

Your brand’s comment section could also invite trolls and malicious users who want to spread false information about your products or service. Moreover, you may also get comments on inaccurate information regarding your products or service such as the ingredients used or how they should be used. 

Whether these users mean actual harm to your brand or simply want to troll, they could create a negative brand perception. In some cases, they could even cause actual harm to community members who follow their advice. So it’s crucial that you moderate these types of comments closely so that your community only gets access to accurate information. 

Human Moderation vs. Automated Moderation

When setting up a content moderation system for their social media pages, brands often have to weigh between two options–human or manual moderation and automated moderation. With manual moderation, a human moderator screens and manages the comments on your social media page to make sure that they align with your community guidelines. While this ensures that every comment goes through proper review, it can be time-consuming.

As such, human moderation may only be suitable for small businesses that only see a handful of comments on their posts. When the comments and conversations start to build up, brands will need to stay on top of those activities to ensure that no harmful comments fall through the cracks. And they need to do so in near real-time so that problematic content doesn’t have time to cause damage to their community or their brand reputation.   

Automated moderation using content moderation tools has become the ideal option. The tool automatically screens each comment that’s submitted to your social media page and either approves or rejects it. This significantly speeds up the process of reviewing and managing comments and posts on your social media pages.

In some cases, the comments are also sent to a human moderator for additional review. This extra step is important when the tool can’t understand the nuances in the comment to assess whether it complies with the brand’s community guidelines.

Certain social media management platforms like Sendible also come with built-in content moderation features for Facebook. This allows you to specify words or phrases that go against your community guidelines so the tool can automatically remove posts or comments containing those specified keywords. 

Content Moderation Best Practices

Now that you know exactly what content moderation is and why you need it for your social media page, it’s time to start using it for your brand. Here are a few best practices to follow so you can successfully moderate user-generated content on your brand’s social media.

Content Moderation Best Practices

Set Up Clear Community Rules and Guidelines

Start by defining what the rules and guidelines are so your audience knows exactly what kind of environment you want to create for your community. This may vary across different brands and social media communities. While some brands may allow swear words (especially when used in a positive context), other brands may not be as lenient. At the same time, all brands may agree on banning offensive and discriminatory language.

Look at who your followers are, what your brand personality is, and what type of content you have on your page to get a better idea of what those rules and guidelines might be. Having these rules and guidelines laid out is essential for determining your moderation methods and establishing a baseline for your actions.

Additionally, you may want to publish these rules and guidelines for your audience to see. This helps ensure better transparency and clears up any confusion about what types of content are not allowed on your page. On Facebook, you can add this info in the “Details” section of your page. On visual platforms like Instagram, you may need to publish them in the form of an image.    

Tourism Australia clearly outlines the types of posts that will not be tolerated on their Facebook page. As you can see, there are plenty of rules and guidelines for their community to follow.

Source: facebook.com

Establish Protocols for Appropriate Action

Once your rules and guidelines are established, you also need well-defined protocols on what actions to take when you come across content that violates those rules. This will bring clarity to the backend team on what warrants removal and what needs to be reported. It will also give you direction on how to effectively set up your moderation tool.

The protocol should define what types of comments should be removed or rejected. It should also define what types of comments should be kept but responded to and how the responses should be constructed. Additionally, even if you have an automated moderation tool set up, you should specify when certain comments should be passed on to a human moderator.

It’s also important to delegate moderation tasks to specific people. Who is responsible for responding to the comments? Who should look into the issues raised by customers in the comments? Make sure your team members know exactly who is in charge of what so they can make an organized effort at efficiently managing your social media

In the Tourism Australia example above, the page also specifies what action will be taken when users violate the guidelines. They specify that such comments will be removed and users violating the policy will be blocked from following Tourism Australia’s social media profiles. Additionally, in extreme cases, the page may even report the user to relevant authorities.

Source: facebook.com

Find a Moderation Tool that Works for You

With automated moderation making the job so much easier, investing in a social media moderation tool is a must. If you’re already using a social media management tool, see if it comes with built-in content moderation features. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a tool that comes with moderation capabilities for all the social media platforms relevant to your brand.

Additionally, content moderation tools come with varying levels of moderation and different features. You’ll need to compare your options to find something that fits your moderation methods and preferences. For example, some tools may come with robust sentiment analysis features to assist your moderation efforts. You may also find tools that automatically scan for and remove inappropriate hashtags and handles in addition to words.

Assign a Community Manager to Manage Your Presence

Next, it’s time to assign a community manager to help you manage your online presence. Although you may rely heavily on a tool to automate your social media moderation, tools can’t fully replace humans. A community manager may be able to understand the nuances in a comment that an automated tool might miss. For example, a sarcastic comment about your service may be mistakenly approved by the moderation tool because of the positive words it contains. 

As such, a community manager ensures that the comments and posts on your social media page align with your brand’s image. They help to maintain a certain level of quality in the standard of conversations on your page so that brand perception remains positive. 

Moreover, having a community manager helps when customers need more detailed responses that go beyond simply referring them to your Help page. While you’re free to ignore those comments or provide copy-pasted responses, that won’t do much good if you want to build a strong and engaged community. For example, Canva provided a detailed answer to someone asking how they can make a grainy effect as the brand did in their Tweet. 

Source: twitter.com

Don’t Just Filter Out ALL Negative Comments

It may be instinctual to ban or remove every negative comment your brand receives, but this could sometimes do more harm than good. While it may seem counterintuitive to let negative comments remain on your page, those comments could prove to be an asset for your brand with the right response protocol in place.

The goal is to respond appropriately to those negative comments to maintain transparency and win the trust of your community. Think about whether your audience would trust your brand if they notice that you’re removing every single negative comment. On the contrary, if they can see that you’re trying to resolve customer complaints or clarify any confusion, it could show them that you’re not trying to hide anything and that you’re genuinely helping.

Have a protocol in place for how to deal with different types of negative comments. While hateful and derogatory comments may be due for immediate removal, you may want to keep negative comments that are trying to spread false information or complaining about your products. Your community manager could then respond to those comments with clarifications or resolutions depending on the situation. 

Additionally, you’d definitely want to keep comments that point out a mistake. Show your community that you own up to your mistakes and try to fix them promptly. See the following interaction in which a follower points out a typo in a Facebook post from Able, a New Zealand-based non-profit organization. The organization promptly fixes the typo and thanks the follower for pointing out their mistake.

Source: facebook.com

Encourage Staff Participation

Depending on the nature of your business, you could also have your staff set the tone for the type of conversations you want on your social media pages. Seeing your staff start the conversation with entertaining and relevant comments could give people some direction on what types of comments they should leave. This is an effective way to minimize the need for moderation because most people will try to maintain the standard of conversation that’s been set.

Additionally, your staff could also provide informed answers to people who have doubts or questions in the comments. This helps keep things personal while helping you save tons of time in keeping on top of all those conversations.

Look for Opportunities to Educate and Engage Your Audience

Your comment section could be a goldmine for community engagement with people asking questions and looking for help. Make sure you’re actively trying to surface those comments and turn them into something valuable for your brand.

For example, someone could ask a question about the ingredients you use or the sustainability goals you have. Answering those questions helps to not only educate the original commenter but also others who chance upon your conversation. 

See the following conversation in which a customer asks Everlane if they’re using vegan leather. After seeing the brand’s explanation, another customer also joined in on the conversation and shared their excitement about finding vegan leather options.



Weaving Moderation into Your Strategy

With the right tools and protocols set up, social media content moderation is easy for any brand. Make the most of the ideas and tips given above to incorporate content moderation into your social media strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you do social media moderation?

You can do social media moderation by setting up rules and guidelines to follow and protocols to use. Then begin your moderation based on those guidelines using automated tools in combination with human moderation.

What is social media content moderation?

Social media content moderation is the process of reviewing the comments and posts that people share on your social media page to make sure that they abide by your community rules and guidelines.

What are social media moderation tools?

Social media moderation tools are tools that help to scan user-generated content and automatically remove or flag ones that violate the community rules and guidelines.

What are the types of moderation?

Pre-moderation, post-moderation, reactive moderation, and distributed moderation are some of the main types of moderation.

How do you plan and prepare for moderation?

You can plan and prepare for moderation by setting up clear rules and guidelines to follow as well as establishing protocols to handle any violations of said rules.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.