Community Guidelines: A Social Media Manager’s True North When Navigating The Comments Section
By Dave McDonald, Assistant Director of Social Media
We’ve all been there. You post something on social media and sprinkled in with comments of praise and encouragement, a few negative comments appear. While a natural knee-jerk reaction may be to delete or hide them, as social media managers we know that allowing criticism on our channels is just as important as the replies that praise. However, it’s common to see responses that are spammy, off-topic, or offensive. In these instances, a strong set of community guidelines can be your guide when deciding how to take action.
What to include in your community guidelines:
Here at Boston University we recently updated our community guidelines to reflect the current challenges community managers are facing. Some key points we included are:
- Encourage an engaging, positive conversation, and treat others with respect
- Constructive criticism is welcome, however, posts that harass or threaten other users are not allowed
- Do not spread misinformation
- Posts that violate the social media platform’s policies, disclose information that is confidential under law, incite imminent lawless action, or violate intellectual property rights may be removed at any time
- Don’t use the page to ask for money or promote services, products, or entities, even if it’s on behalf of a worthy cause. By the same token, it’s fine to share if you’re running for political office, but please do not promote your campaign.
- Duplicative comments by the same user may be removed
- If promoting an event or program, make sure the users are identifying their connection with your organization
Why are they are important:
When we delete or hide a reply or ban a user, many times trolls will double down on their offensive comments or create a new account to protest their ban. Although these situations are few and far between, having a strong set of community guidelines will give social media managers something they can point to when a follower comes knocking to ask why their content was deleted. When this happens, reply by reminding the user in question of the guidelines that are in place (and link to the page they live on, if possible). If they keep it up, you can ban them knowing they were fairly warned. Here’s an example:
“Hi there, just a reminder, that in accordance with our social media guidelines, we welcome constructive criticism of COMPANY NAME and its efforts. Please do not, however, use posts/replies to harass or threaten other users or to spread false or misleading information.”
Once finalized, update your social channels:
After you draft your community guidelines, if possible, have your organization’s office of general counsel take a look at them to make sure there aren’t any issues. After they are finalized, make sure you post them across your social pages wherever possible. It can also be helpful to host your guidelines on your website to link back to platforms like Twitter where profile character count is limited, and to reference in the comments section of your posts when necessary.
Have you recently updated your community guidelines? Is there something we missed? Sound off in the comments section. Just keep it civil. 😉