Twitter is a strange beast. (Sorry, Twitter, that’s not an insult, I promise.) A global social phenomenon that has grown exponentially, (218m active users sending 9,100 tweets per second), nearly every brand has a Twitter presence, whether it’s there to broadcast information and updates, drive sales, serve as an alternate customer service channel, or engage 1-1 with users in a purely social way to humanize the company.
When we talk to people about Twitter moderation, they’re sometimes a bit confused about what that means. Moderators on message boards, Facebook, or the comment sections of news articles can delete at will if they wish to get rid of spam, or answer questions from people there to interact. But Twitter isn’t like these other social gathering places. It consists of millions of people talking at once, and some of them are talking to your brand. A solid team of moderators can help you build relationships with them.
But no, moderators cannot delete tweets by other people, even if they’re really mean. (Don’t laugh; someone at your organization thinks that this is possible. Seriously.)
What can Twitter moderators do?
- View and respond to comments in real-time
- Prioritize comments for response
- Prioritize users for response
- Engage proactively
- Engage reactively
- Adhere to your brand’s voice
- Prevent “passion fails”
- Categorize/tag/log interactions for reporting purposes
So, what do these mean?
View and respond to comments in real-time
If you’re using Twitter for your brand and have access to the email address listed on the account, you are notified fairly quickly when someone on the platform @mentions you. However, usually one person in a given organization is viewing those alerts, and they probably sleep and break for meals and conversations about whatever TV show is awesome now that Breaking Bad is over. Moderation allows you to cover the platform 24/7, and adjust for spikes in activity around special promotions, holidays, or (oh, please don’t let this happen!) social media disasters.
Twitter comments have a fast decay rate; social media writers are watching and rating big brands. If you wait too long to respond, customers will have forgotten why they contacted you in the first place — or worse, think you just don’t care. But you should take enough time not to force your comparative similes, because I almost contrasted Twitter’s decay rate with that of the Uranium-238 radioactive isotope, and that doesn’t work. Or maybe it does. Here’s a visual:
Decay Rates (estimated):
Think about it. If you tweet your airline about a delay, your cable company with a service-related question, or ask a clothing brand if they have an item in stock in stores versus online, how long should it take to get a response? And how do you feel when you get no response at all? The “decay rate” for tweets your brand can engage with depends on what you do and what your goals are.
Prioritize comments for response
Because some things need a lightning-fast reply, and others are spam, water-cooler-style venting, something that the brand can’t address for legal reasons, or fill in this blank: ___________, seasoned moderators work within your guidelines to determine which items should be answered most urgently.
Prioritize users for response
Likewise, everybody has an equal voice on a democratic platform like Twitter. No 140-character burst of literary genius or observation about salad is inherently worth more than another (until the retweets happen). But if a news source with 500k followers mentions your brand or business sector, or a celebrity with twelve million followers’ raves about how much they love your ahmazzzzing widgets (seriously, they’re really fab!), you’ll probably want to know — and have these escalated immediately for the best response.
(Did anybody else think widgets were an actual thing when you were a kid, before they invented Internet widgets? What word do teachers use for imaginary products now?)
People on Twitter tag your brand and ask for your help, a follow-back, or just start a conversation with you. You have someone sitting there ready to respond with an appropriate answer (or who knows where to find the answer quickly) all the time, right? No? Moderators can do this.
Most of the world’s larger brands are using technologies to “listen” on Twitter and other platforms to gather mentions of their company, its products, competitor comparisons, and anything relevant. What are you doing with that data? Putting it in a line on a spreadsheet and letting people know about how many mentions you had last month, or…actively having engaged conversations with these people when they can actually do you some good?
How many moderators will you need? That depends on the number of mentions you have (not just @mentions) but also on other proactive outreach opportunities you might not have considered. How many people chat about your product or service sector every hour of every day? (Soda, sweaters, soap, a television show?) You could be engaging with them in real time, if you had the staff to do so.
Adhere to your brand’s voice
It’s easy to fall into the “only I can do this correctly” trap and become a social media martyr. You’re the only one who can speak for your brand or deal with a complaint, because anyone else will just screw it up, right? That’s why moderation guidelines exist. Whether your brand is serious, snarky, or sweet as pie, there are moderation teams who can match your brand voice and give you a well-earned break. (There’s where that sleeping and eating thing comes in.) At the same time, you can instruct moderators to escalate things you’d prefer to deal with personally. Your level of involvement is totally up to you.
Prevent “passion fails”
A “passion fail” is a term I use to describe the kind of social media meltdown that occurs on Twitter when a brand takes things too personally. You’ve seen it, when a celebrity has a twitter war with another celebrity. These normally don’t happen because the person tasked with handling a brand’s Twitter account doesn’t care, but because they’re overly invested in the outcome of a given interaction. Their reflexive reaction to criticism of the brand they love and represent is “HOW DARE YOU?!” and can lead to a hasty, hotheaded response to a customer’s venting. Moderators will care very much about the way your brand is perceived, but they have years of experience dealing with comments of all kinds and every sort of Internet troll, and don’t take these jabs as personally as you might.
Categorize/tag interactions for reporting purposes
Because we know some things do actually have to end up as lines on a spreadsheet, but there is data that can be much more meaningful that how many times your brand is mentioned. And with experienced moderators focused on interaction, you can focus on strategy to share with your team and get much more business value and social capital out of your Twitter presence.