23 July 2010 ~ 6 Comments

Moderate your Facebook page or risk damaging your brand – NSFW

social media facebook brand disasterThere’s a general consensus nowadays that pro-actively moderating your community space is either tantamount to limiting free speech, a waste of valuable resource or legally unwise.

Having worked in organisations that advocated reactive moderation as opposed to some form of pro-active monitoring of their community content, there are definitely situations in which it is the most suitable form of moderation. Maybe your legal position is safer with a hands off approach, or your community has a strong enough culture to enforce your rules of use themselves.

When it comes to Facebook however, you are not provided with tools with which your community can report issues to you directly. Rather, members report breaches to Facebook directly, and you don’t have any control in what is removed and what remains. To stop your page and audience being hijacked, you are however provided with the ability to delete user submitted content, so can task someone at the very least with checking the page once a day and cleaning it up of spam content.

In this circumstance, it is extremely unwise to take the time to set up a Facebook page, bother registering the short URL for it, and then completely ignore it from then on in.

Which is exactly what Ferrero Rocher are doing right now. If you look at the screen-grab below taken this morning, you will see that their branded page has been hijacked by a number of women (maybe) who are keen to promote themselves and their desire to follow a career in porn to Ferrero Rocher’s almost 3 million fans. You can also view the image here.

brands disaster hijack facebook spam moderation

[Edit]: The screenshot above was taken on Friday 23rd July 2010 at 4pm GMT. As of Monday 26th July 2010 10am GMT, the images above are still present on the page, and have been joined by a whole new batch of spam.

They also have a presence on Twitter, which seems sporadic at best. However they have not responded to suggestions from users to check their Facebook page out, so it seems monitoring is non-existent at this stage on both social media platforms.

Ferrero has always promoted their little parcels of crunchy chocolate as an exquisite and special treat, as illustrated by their “Ambassador” adverts.

However, having minimally-clad women pimping themselves out on your corporate brand page, as well as various other forms of spam such as scammy competitions, self-promotion and advertising, is likely to harm how people perceive your brand.

Given that there are several messages pointing out that the page should be monitored, and others have tried reaching out to their Twitter account over the past few days, one would be led to assume that Ferrero have little interest in controlling the experience one has when visiting their social media product pages.

More importantly, it seems like they are merely box ticking; when told they needed a presence, they built one, without bothering to plan what to do with it or how to keep the content in line with their brand values.

Planning a monitoring and moderation system is one of the first and most important things you need to do when building a new community. Run through some role-play. Decide on some procedures for different scenarios that could happen.

Figure out who needs to do what if things go wrong. Don’t just ignore it, or worse still, forget you set it up in the first place. Hire a Social Media Manager!

[edit]: Some other brand pages that have been hit by porn spammers and are obviously not being monitored: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Big Bang Theory (looks like they’ve removed the comments from the wall, but the photos are still visible on the left column and in the fan photos album – doh…), same with Adidas Originals and U2 (check fan photos albums). Ellen Degeneres doesn’t seem to mind having the same photos in her album either, as do Avatar the movie and Twilight (those poor teenage eyes!).

[photo by *Zoha.N]

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  • http://www.managingcommunities.com Patrick

    Hey Blaise,

    I definitely agree with your main points here: moderation isn't a bad thing, it's a great thing and it depends on your circumstance. I agree that Facebook's tools are not great and that you should not create a page (and open it up for user posting) without monitoring it, generally speaking. I agree that having this type of spam on your page does do some damage to your brand, in some cases. All good points!

    I wanted to say that I felt that the screen shot you chose didn't do justice to the rest of your article! The reason I say this is because the comments in your screen shot were posted minutes ago, i.e. within one hour.

    The real spam that tells the story is the stuff that has been there for days or longer. For most organizations, it's probably not a terribly good use of resources to have someone on your Facebook page once every 20 minutes for 24 hours a day. That would effectively be the only way to cut down spam as quickly as what is shown in your screen shot. For most, it would be appropriate for someone to check the page a few times a day.

    Also, it's important to adjust for organization size, as well. For many smaller organizations or businesses (not including Ferrero), it makes little sense to hire a social media or community manager. The money isn't there and it's not budget justifiable. They can ably manage it themselves. But, to do it, they don't need to be on their page at every moment of every day. Checking it once or twice a day, or maybe even every day or two depending on activity, is plenty appropriate.

    If people believe that they can't learn how to manage a Facebook page and they need to hire a new full time person dedicated to just social media, they may be just as likely not to enter the space at all, and that would be unfortunate. You don't have to be tethered to your computer in order to do this well. :)

    As an aside, is there some way to pre-moderate a Facebook wall? I don't see it in the settings. Maybe an app? Are there any good apps that step up the moderation tools available?



  • http://cloudyandsocial.com Martin Rabl

    It's a typical result of establishing a presence without keeping in mind that platforms like Facebook and Twitter work in both ways and need to be monitored.
    Unfortunately it is quite difficult to prevent such spam in the first place but it needs to be taken into consideration.

    Id the budget isn't there it does not need to be a Social Media Manager but at least someone should be responsible for keeping sites clean. And it needs to be clear who that is because otherwise people just wait for someone else to do it.

  • http://twitter.com/eyrea Katherine

    From what I've read of Facebook pages, they might no longer *have* access to moderate it. Don't pages need to be owned by an individual with a Facebook ID? If the person who set upthe page has left the company/was a contractor, they may not be approachable. It's not like monitoring a regular web page with a feedback section.

    For the same reasons, the company might not be able to get the page taken down outright.

  • http://twitter.com/eModeration Tia Fisher

    Hi Blaise

    Thanks for the post – all yr points agreed!

    Firstly, a quick response to Patrick – no, you can't premoderate Facebook. Brands who moderate their walls (and thankfully, many do) have to post moderate either through Facebook's own tools (and spend a lot of time serching for the new content) or pay for one of the few good third party moderation tools, who pull Facebook API in. As only postmoderation is possible, brands must give serious thought to the amount of resource they can dedicate to this – how long can they tolerate illegal or innappropriate content remaining on their wall? The filter and auto-delete function of good FB moderation tools such as Conversocial http://www.emoderation.com/about/partnerships can of course assist with this.

    And to Katherine – it seems that Facebook now allow any admin to appoint another 'Liker' as admin to the page – and be deleted from admin themselves. SO, the good practice is now – don't put all your eggs in one basket, and make sure that regardless of employee or agency changes, there will always be at least one admin access to the page. That MAY mean creating a Facebook profile just for that purpose, with a corporation alias email.

    Sorry to self-promote, but hopefully eModeration's white paper on Moderation in Social Networks may be useful? Free download from http://www.emoderation.com/about/publications. We try to keep up with major FB moderation changes on our blog too – it's on Blaise's blogroll :-)

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