Community moderation isn’t just about removing the bad stuff that detractors post in your community. It also includes making decisions about what you want your community members to do.

For most customer communities, new members tend to be “lurkers” in the beginning. Emphasizing the best aspects of your community ensures that users imitate this behavior over time.

Before you set out responding to every negative comment about your brand that occurs inside the community, consider having these strategies in place to keep the community healthy for the long-haul.

Proactively model the behavior you want to see.

When customers visit your online community, they copy what they see other members doing. Be proactive about creating positive community practices. Team members can welcome new members of the community (either publicly or through direct messages).

You can create traditions like dedicating a specific type of thread on specific days (think of Throwback Thursday or other similar conventions relevant to your audience). You can also ask community managers to steer conversations that might be heading in the wrong direction back on track.

Finally, thanking customer evangelists for their contributions is an often overlooked moderating strategy. This ensures your most active members feel appreciated and continue making positive contributions to the community.

Aggressively moderate new member activity.

While having internal members moderate every new thread or reply can be difficult or impossible, it can be much more manageable to moderate activity by new users.

Moderation rules on the backend of the Socialqnect platform specify that the first X number of pieces of content are held in moderation. If done correctly, users creating content won’t see it (so they aren’t tipped off that they’re being moderated).

When holding content in moderation, make sure to have moderators on call to approve content quickly so that your new members receive replies to their questions right away.

You’ll often find that negative community members or “trolls” reveal their true colors immediately – they often join explicitly to post inappropriate content or create controversy.

Set specific responsibilities for community managers.

Designate specific users or community managers as moderators so that they can closely monitor the community. Alternatively, you can use a service like Mechanical Turk to crowdsource moderation as well. Moderation tasks should include:

  • Flagging posts, comments, files, and messages that are inappropriate.
  • Reviewing and acting on flagged items, such as deleting a post or comment.
  • Contributing great content during slow times.
  • Manage and track banned users.
  • Welcoming new members with direct messages.

Use exclusivity to shape community culture.

One of the advantages of customer communities is that you can pull people from your customer database who already know and like your brand. Consider an invite-only phase for your community just for existing customers.

Exclusivity can help you set the right tone for your community up front. New users tend to model their behavior after current members, so by sending exclusive invites to your initial batch of users, you have more control over starting your community off on the right foot.

Post community rules and guidelines for all users.

Post your community guidelines on an FAQ page or post. That way, you can always refer someone to the guidelines when the need arises.

Match every moderation guideline to your posting policy and user agreement. This ensures that community managers are only taking action with a poster when they can point to a guideline the commenter is violating.

Let the community police itself.

Another approach is to let the community police itself. By creating mechanisms for community members to report or down vote content, they can maintain the health of the community regardless of scale.

Keep in mind that every community has a different set of values, so it’s a good idea to consider the moderation strategies that work best for your members.

Communities thrive when their members have a safe space to contribute questions and share ideas. Having the right moderation strategy in place ensures that the community becomes a powerful touchpoint for your brand.