You’ve poured your heart and soul into your online business. After several months of tweaking your website and developing your content strategy, all your hard work has begun to pay off. Your blog traffic is soaring, you’ve built an engaged and active social media community, and your content is being shared at a breakneck pace. As your business has become more popular and your audience has grown, a new challenge has emerged. Keeping up with the large volume of user-generated content (UGC) you’re receiving via your blog and social media channels daily has become nearly impossible.

If you asked a panel of web-based entrepreneurs about the biggest threats to their business, they’d likely have two responses: hackers and competitors. While both of these things are completely valid concerns, but there’s a less obvious threat that’s also worth discussing. Unmoderated or under moderated user-generated content has the potential to become a huge problem for online business owners. While most community members that engage with businesses online do so in a positive and productive manner, there are also countless people out there who dedicate their time to posting defamatory and in some cases, illegal content on unsuspecting websites. Content like this can damage the brand you’ve worked so hard to build, and leave your company vulnerable to legal threats.

To help combat the threat of unchecked UGC, it’s important to make moderation an integral part of your business’ content strategy from the start. Mapping out how you’re going to manage the influx of user-generated content as your business grows can help you protect your investment over the long term. There are a few different approaches to content moderation worth considering.

In-house moderation
Many business owners take an in-house approach to content moderation as they’re starting up. They either moderate comments and submissions themselves, or have a dedicated online community manager that manages the flow of user-generated content coming through their website and social media accounts. In-house moderation is an effective solution for smaller-scale operations with a limited amount of UGC to manage.

Crowdsourced moderation
As established businesses begin to develop a larger online following and the volume of user-generated content increases, it may become challenging to manage things in-house. Many companies develop systems that allow them to crowdsource their content moderation. For example, a business owner might employ a team of freelance workers to flag inappropriate responses to a recent blog post. Alternatively, they may decide to use a dedicated platform like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or CrowdFlower for their crowdsourcing needs. For many business owners, parsing out content moderation to freelance workers is an effective way to manage UGC.

Professional moderation
Some entrepreneurs find the idea of crowdsourcing their content moderation to a team of untrained workers unsettling. In this case, there are professional services available that can help you monitor user-generated content. Businesses like WebPurify have dedicated teams that spend time learning about your brand so that they’re able to moderate content more effectively. Professional moderation is an effective solution for business owners that are no longer able to control the volume of user-generated content, and are anxious about putting their content moderation in the hands of an untrained workforce.

If you have a business blog or are regularly developing content online, formulating a plan for moderation is critically important. When it comes to content moderation, there are a few approaches you can take. Choose a system that works well for your business to protect your brand, online community, and website over the long term.