When managing a community, the key focus is building a relationship with your members. Your community members will immediately recognize the value you create if every decision you make is centered on bringing meaning and value to your community. All it takes is a few conversations with people that really care, and you're well on your way to an engaged community!
Here are eight effective moderating management tips that you can apply in just about any situation.
- Say good morning: Right when you get into the office, it is important to spend a half hour or so in the community. In instances where a member responded overnight/weekend it is important to immediately address those first before moving on. This also correlates to any content that you can engage with members of the community. This demonstrates that you are listening to them and being that ever-present voice that keeps things rolling along smoothly.
- Housekeeping: Not only is it important to engage with members, but it is important to be on the pulse of what is happening in the community. By keeping tabs on the latest survey results and content, you will not only be prepared when a client asks off-hand, but you will also be able to provide additional engagement suggestions based on what your members will respond to best.
- Define your voice/keep it real: Engage with your members by listening to them, talking with them, and responding to their questions. How you position yourself in a community is important to help personify your brand. It’s important to pay attention to your tone, manner, and even the type of language you use with each group (Brokers, Employers, Physicians, Consumers, Office Staff). You want to be natural and speak with them in the same way they speak with you. Otherwise, members will see right through it.
- Remember—it’s not your community: It’s important to recognize that without members, there would be no community. As a moderator you contribute to conversations and content within the community, showing you’re a real person who’s interested in the content and conversation in the community will help you earn the respect of community members. Overall, the moderator's job is to keep conversations on topic and make sure people aren’t attacking one another. If either one of those things is happening, and community members are stepping in to shut it down, let the conversation run its course, and don’t step in unless you think you have to.
- It’s how you handle the situation that counts: Of course, you can’t always predict when something is going to turn south in a community. However, you can have a plan in case something does go wrong. You should know what you can and can’t say in the event of a crisis. Also, it’s important to make sure you’ve had a discussion with your team about any methods you might use to control the community in this type of situation. For instance, you may want to say things like, “I’m working on finding out more information,” until you can actually say more. However, what’s most important is that you respond – immediately!
- Know when to ban a member—no need to spoil it for everyone else: In any community, some members are more vocal than others. These types of members keep things interesting and keep the conversation going. However, sometimes a vocal member is there just to make trouble … there are a few bad seeds in every bunch. When you’re trying to figure out whether or not to ban a member, ask yourself: Do they help the community more than hurt it? Are they spoiling the experience for others? How you answer these questions will help you decide whether or not to ask a member to leave the community.
- Always plan ahead: It’s always good to be in the present but it’s also important to be conscious of what is coming down the pipeline. At the beginning and end of each week, it’s important to keep track of what is going on in the community at all times. This way you can plan ahead if there is a week of ‘low engagement’ and consult with your team for additional content suggestions.
- Until tomorrow… Before the day is over, it’s always important to repeat step one. A lot can happen in 8 hours and it’s important as the voice of the community to make sure that nothing is left outstanding.
Communicating as a Moderator
Whether you are moderating a survey discussion or member-created conversation, it is crucial to set the tone and you have to maintain an environment for active participation and encourage dialogue to get the data you need. Here are a few tips on how to sustain an insightful and responsive online community.
- Focused Questions: It is important to not overwhelm your members with too many questions. A good number of questions/points to start a discussion with are two or three key questions/conversation topics. Too many questions will result in less focus and low-quality responses. The key topics should be stimulating, interesting, and thought-provoking. The topics should be related to the subject you are researching. Be direct with members. It’s easy to get off topic and lose focus, so make sure to ask direct questions to receive direct and honest feedback in return.
- Authentic Moderator: As we mentioned in Moderation Management, it is very important to keep the Moderator’s tone/voice authentic to build trust between you and the members. A great way to establish trust is by introducing the Moderator as a person with real interests and a life outside of the online community. Share something about yourself (your hobbies, what you do, etc.). People like engaging with humans, not robots.
- Be Appreciative: Show your appreciation that people are taking their time to participate in the community. It is especially important to respond to new members for joining and participating. Post responses that make it clear that you are reading and acknowledging their feedback.
Responses to Member Comments
There are standard comments you can use to encourage members to participate in discussions. The Moderator's response to a member’s question should be tailored when possible; it is beneficial for the brand and moderator to develop certain standard language to address common questions or concerns such as customer service-related questions, technical issues, etc. All of these comments or phrases can be used to feed and encourage discussions.
Sample Responses to Member Comments
- General Member Comments:
- Thank you for sharing!
- Thank you for your feedback!
- Appreciate the input!
- Thank you for providing your input!
- We appreciate you sharing your response with us!
- Great comment, thanks for sharing!
- Thank you for sharing your honest opinion!
- You're not alone in your thoughts, [insert username]! (If we see a topic trend in comments)
- Thank you for the insight, [insert username].
- Expand on Comment
- What, what where, when, and how?
- I found it interesting when you mentioned ____. Could you elaborate more?
- Do you mind explaining ____ a bit further?
- What do you mean by ____?
- That’s an interesting thought, could you explain further?
- Tell us more about ____!
- Include Members
- Please feel free to add any additional comments!
- Let us know if you agree or disagree.
- Does anyone have a different/similar experience?
- Does anyone have a different/similar opinion?
- Thank you for helping out your fellow member!
- Member Suggestions
- Great suggestion [USERNAME]! I’ll relay this feedback to my team!
- Positive Experience Member Comments
- Happy to hear you’re enjoying your time in the community! What have you enjoyed the most about being a [Name of Community] member?
Sample Responses to Member Complaints
- Thank you for the candid feedback. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had this negative experience.
- We appreciate your honest input. We will follow up with you in a private message (support ticket).
- Bugs in general: (app, browser, survey)
- Private message language
- Screenshot, browser, survey, discussion
- Completions – noting the landing page isn’t there.
- Closed activities
- Responding to closed activities’ responses: Thank you for your interest in our activity! Due to an overwhelming response, this activity is now closed. Don't worry though, there will many more opportunities in the future!
- When we close it early: Thank you for your interest in participating, USERNAME. Due to an overwhelming response, we had to close this activity early. Don't worry though – there will be many more opportunities in the future!
- File Uploads
- Hitting add before it loads: We recommend clicking the "Add" button to upload your file. We recommend keeping file size to a minimum for the fastest upload.
- How to upload in general: To upload a file, click on "Upload Files", located directly beneath the comment box. A white box will appear, allowing you to drop files directly or click to upload. Once the file has landed in the white box, you can click "Add Comment" to post your file. Depending on size, files can take a moment to upload. Please note the comment box cannot be left blank when uploading a file.
- Sorry to hear you don’t see points in your account yet! Please note, points take 24-48 hours to display in your account.
- Accessing points page: Linking them to their points page. [URL] Direct members to the "My Points" tab in the upper right corner of the community, just to the left of their profile photo. A screenshot can be helpful if a visual is needed.
- Communities that reset points, language [link to rewards FAQ]
- Sorry to hear you’re missing your points! I’ll have my team look into this. (Reaching out via ticket) – can delete these comments later on
- We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused! We are currently looking into this. Thank you for your patience.
- …in the future, you can submit these questions via the contact moderator button
Sample Responses to Customer Service Questions
If a member posts a question that requires an official response from the brand, the Moderator will escalate to the appropriate client team member or redirect the member to customer service.
I am very sorry to hear that you had an unsatisfactory experience with [BRAND]. Thank you for making us aware. If you can provide me with the following information, I can direct your feedback to the correct person.
Sample Responses to Technical Issues
- If a member posts a question about platform functionality or the community, the Moderator will respond either on the discussion board or to the specific member depending on what is most appropriate.
- Items we need from them: You may need to ask...
- What browser are they using (Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.) as well as what browser version?
- If the question is regarding mobile, you may have to ask if they are using an iPhone or Android phone, as well as the Operating System (OS) version.
Thank you for messaging us. We apologize for any inconvenience this [issue] may have caused. The tech team is currently looking into this right now. Thank you for your patience!
- Login Issue:
- Forgotten Password – best practice, check their email.
I have reset your password so you may log in with the credentials below:
You can update the password to one of your choosing once you have logged in at the top-right of the page under "Account Settings". Please note your old password will be the one given to you above in this email.
- Change Email Address
You can update your email address by logging in at the top-right of the page under “Account Settings”.
- Change Username - Some communities allow members to change their usernames, while others do not.
- We change for them in the backend of the community
- Create new account
I’m happy to assist you with a change to your username. Your previous account was closed, so below is a link to reinitiate the registration process. You’ll be able to reset your username during this process. Please let me know if I can be of any additional help. [LINK]
- Activating Account
Thank you for your email. I apologize for the inconvenience you’ve experienced. I’ve successfully activated your account, and you may log into the community at [community email]. Please let me know if you have any other difficulties or would like further assistance.
- Account Status - Close
Your account has successfully been closed per your request. You should no longer be receiving communications regarding [community]. If you want to gain access to the community at a future date, just email me.
- Account Status – Open (look at when they originally joined)
- Sometimes, members can request to have their DELETED account turned ACTIVE again. If so, members may need to be re-screened into the community depending on the level of security of the community. Here is some sample language when inviting a member back into the community:
Thank you for your interest in rejoining [community]. Welcome back!
Below is a link that will take you through the registration process and prompt you to create a new profile and account. Please let me know if I can be of any additional help. [LINK]
Best Practices – Editing or Removing Posts & Removing Members
This is not a common practice; however, it is good to be prepared to handle members who may cause trouble and it is good to keep them in check. Depending on your audience and topics, it may be necessary to remove/edit content or remove a member from the community.
Reasons to Edit or Remove Posts
Here is the language we would send to the member if we remove a comment:
We have removed your comment in the [DISCUSSION TITLE] as it does not [follow the directions/guidelines/does not pertain to the topic]. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on [reference specific questions in discussion]!
- Private Information:
- You can edit the post to remove private information using square brackets to indicate some personal information was removed. If the entire post contains an excess of personal information and no other relevant content, simply remove the entire comment.
- Inappropriate or Awkward Comment:
- You can choose to delete a portion of the comment or the whole post.
- For awkward comments that are relevant or may reveal too much personal information, the best approach is to attempt to keep them on-topic by re-asking a question or directing them back to the discussion at hand.
- Example warning to Member:
We noticed your [comment/video upload/photo] in the [name of discussion or activity]. Our team does not feel that the [information/comment/photo] is relevant to our activity and will have it removed. Please know that we look for participation that stays on topic. We look forward to your comments/videos/images that [reference topic here].
- Low-Quality Responses from Members:
- These can be one-word answers to a string of random letters that do not make sense. This can be in a discussion or open-end within a survey.
- It's best to message the member and warn them that this continued behavior will result in the closure of their account.
- Example warning to members:
We noticed your [comment/video upload/photo] in the [name of discussion or activity]. Our team does not feel that the [information/comment/photo] is relevant to our activity and will have it removed. Please know that we look for quality responses and will have to close your account if participation quality does not improve.
- Removing Members
- Example warning to members:
Thank you for your membership and time spent with the [community]. We would like to inform you that we have closed your account due to your comments and activity in the community, which have not been made in the spirit of respect for others that you agreed to when you joined the community. Again, thank you for your time and contributions. Please reach out to the moderator: email@example.com with any questions.
Thank you for your membership and time spent with the [community]. We would like to inform you that we have closed your account. The community periodically refreshes its membership to create open spots for new members to join. We hope you can understand the need to update the community base and that you have enjoyed your time with us. Please reach out to the moderator: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Analyze and Report on the Community
- Follow-up on interesting or even confusing comments. Oftentimes, engagement activities or open discussions after a survey can be mined for insights that may not have been otherwise apparent. When moderating, it’s always good to dig deeper when a member offers an insightful comment. Example: if a member mentioned they didn’t think the item/product they surveyed was safe for children to use, perhaps ask why they think this. Ask what they would change to make it safer for children. We can get ideas by hearing this feedback!
- Identify themes
- Within discussions, you may notice trends–this could be overall sentiment or recurring words or phrases that members use. This can be helpful to your research team to hear, as well as the client! Perhaps a topic or question that wasn’t asked specifically in a research activity may be a hot topic in the discussion. Keep note! Example: Members may be asked to view an ad test – an unreleased commercial featuring a new product. In the discussion portion, members may talk about what they liked and disliked about the commercial. If multiple members start asking “It sounded like the child said an offensive word during this portion. That’s off-putting!” It may be worth bringing this to the research team’s attention, as this could help the client reassess the way a video ad is edited.
- Pay attention to differences as well
- While you may notice themes, you may also notice differences. Some members may have a very positive reaction, while others may have a very negative reaction. Polarized comments are worthwhile noting, as there may be some reasons for a divide that the research team can dig deeper into. Example: Perhaps we discover female members react positively, whereas males have a more negative response.
- Analyze as you moderate
- Be a researcher as you moderate! Comments may provide insight into a new research topic that would be interesting to explore.
- Pay close attention to members' comments to help provide feedback as to what is important and of interest to members. While some discussions are not research-based, they can easily become great supplemental material for reporting.
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