Why is content moderation important for user-generated campaigns? This post explains the reasons and the benefits content moderation can bring your brand.
If you’ve ever spent time on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network, you’ve probably encountered content moderation at some point.
Maybe you’ve had to wait for approval before your content was published. Or maybe you saw someone get banned for violating content rules. Maybe you got banned (we’ve all had our moments).
The point I’m trying to make is that content moderation happens all around us. While we’re free to share our opinions on the many websites that encourage us to, most of them have some type of content moderation in place to make sure users don’t go crazy without consequences.
We’re used to seeing this on social media. Instagram has community guidelines, just like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Twitch, Reddit, and any other major network. Kanye West was famously banned from Twitter for posting Nazi propaganda, which violated the network’s rules against incitement to violence.
Content moderation is also a critical component of review sites. Trustpilot for example will ask for proof of experience if their moderation team thinks a user review might be fake.
Another place where content moderation is very important is in user-generated marketing campaigns.
What are user-generated campaigns?
User-generated campaign is another way to say a marketing campaign that involves user-generated content, or UGC. UGC is highly-authentic and is also proven to impact consumers’ shopping decisions.
Many brands have noticed this and have adopted UGC as part of their content strategy. In a UGC campaign, brands encourage users to create content featuring their products—or work with UGC creators to do so—and then use that content on their own social profiles or website.
Apart from the ability to affect purchasing decisions, user-generated campaigns bring other benefits to brands, too. UGC is much cheaper than working with influencers, it’s faster than producing content in-house, and it helps brands promote diverse perspectives on their products.
What does content moderation in UGC campaigns involve?
To better understand what moderation might look like in user-generated campaigns, let’s look at three different examples.
Campaigns where brands work with UGC creators
UGC creators are freelancers who create content that emulates UGC, but who are paid by brands to do so. As they’re paid, there’s some type of contract or agreement involved. That agreement is the perfect place to lay out your guidelines and reduce the need for moderation later on.
When UGC creators produce content, they send it to the brand to post on its own properties. This means brands have the chance to do proactive moderation.
Proactive moderation (also sometimes called pre-moderation) is when the brand has the chance to approve or reject content before it is ever posted. This task usually falls under the ownership of the brand’s marketing team or social media manager.
In fact, lots of UGC creators are willing to include a revision or two in the fee they charge brands. This means that if the brand finds something that needs moderation, they can work it out with the creator, all before the audience ever even sees the content.
Campaigns where users create social media content and tag brands
Another source of UGC is real users or consumers. Unlike UGC creators, these users don’t get paid specifically to create content for the brand. They create the content because they love the products, and maybe because they’re trying to get the brand’s attention.
A common way of getting a brand’s attention on social media is tagging them. Brands can then review this tagged content to see if any of it looks like something they’d want to repost. If they do, they’ll usually tag the user as a way of saying thanks—valuable exposure to the brand’s audience can help the user grow their profile.
An example of Swedish fashion e-commerce Monki reposting content from users.
A community manager or member of the social media/marketing team will usually review brand mentions as an ongoing task and then choose which ones to republish and which not.
But in order to use proactive moderation when reposting user content, brands should configure their social media profile settings so that tags don’t show up automatically. For example, Instagram gives you the option to manually review any posts you’re tagged in. This stops potentially harmful content from appearing on your “Tagged in” tab.
Some brands, like Monki featured above, repost UGC as it rolls in. Some actively encourage it with limited-run campaigns. In November, yogurt brand Chobani launched a challenge on TikTok to find a Chief Flavor Tester for its Chobani Flip line.
An influencer promoting the Chobani Flip Chief Flavor Tester challenge.
The winner gets a trip to Chobani HQ, a free supply of Chobani Flips for one month, plus some other Chobani merchandise. To participate, users have to upload TikToks of themselves reviewing Chobani Flip flavors with the hashtag #ChobaniFlipCFT. And of course, to do that, they have to buy Chobani flips. In this example, not only does the UGC help generate buzz, but it also helps encourage sales of the product.
But, be careful! With this type of campaign, someone has to review all the videos getting hashtagged with #ChobaniFlipCFT and apply reactive moderation. Someone at Chobani must have been busy reviewing all these taste tester videos to make sure harmful or offensive content doesn’t show up on TikTok with Chobani’s branded hashtag attached.
Campaigns where users don’t have to pass through any filters to post content
While not as common, there are some cases in which users have the power to post content directly to a brand’s profiles or website without passing through any type of moderation filter first. This is another example of where reactive moderation is so important.
For example, some brands like to host takeovers with influencers. A takeover is when an influencer posts content from the brand’s account. You should always discuss beforehand what type of content influencers will post to brand accounts, and what guidelines that content should follow. Clarity is important here to manage influencer relationships positively.
A takeover post between screen printing supply brand Hunt the Moon and screenprint artist January Blues. The brand used the Instagram collaboration post as a good way to moderate this content before it went live on their feed.
Some brands will ask influencers to prepare the content and then send it to their team for posting. Some might hand over access to their social media account. Whatever the case, you should always check that the content published adheres to your brand’s guidelines and the message you want to transmit to your audience.
Why is content moderation important for UGC campaigns?
There are various reasons why content moderation is important for user-generated campaigns. Let’s look at a few.
Content moderation protects the brand’s community and reputation
The most obvious reason you should moderate all UGC submitted to your website or social networks is to protect your community and your brand’s reputation.
The Internet is a big place where anyone can share their thoughts, however harmful they may be to others. You don’t want your community negatively impacted by disturbing content posted by trolls or by users who have some type of vendetta against your brand.
This is why it’s so important to establish community guidelines, similar to what social networks already have. Your brand should decide what type of community it wants to foster, and what values are important to maintain the peace of that community.
Having clear-cut community guidelines will make it much easier for you to later justify why you have to ban users, delete their comments, or block them.
This doesn’t just help protect your community, but it helps protect your brand’s reputation. Imagine if a first-time visitor navigates to your social profiles, excited to see your products, only to find a comment with hate speech at the top of the post. What opinion will they form of your brand?
So consider how your brand can moderate user-generated content. Have someone review comments and posts on social media, submissions to your website, and other UGC. Teach them how to spot harmful content and how to remove it. You may also want to set up filters to prevent that type of content from appearing on your profile in the first place.
Content moderation helps you understand user behavior
Content moderation can also help you get insights into customer behavior. Regularly reviewing user-generated content can help you analyze purchasing decisions and trace user thoughts on a particular trend, product, or piece of content your brand publishes.
When you moderate Instagram comments, tweets, reviews, and images or videos posted by users about your products, you’re getting a first-hand look into your customers’ minds. With a bit of analysis, you can understand what they’re thinking about, what they’re talking about, and what they like and don’t like about your brand and its products.
This video from a British user visiting Target in America can help the brand get insights into how they’re perceived overseas.
Being able to recognize the behavior patterns of your target audience is useful for optimizing your customer acquisition methods, too. Knowing how your audience responds to different types of content can help you cultivate your online community strategically so that it helps influence the audience’s buying decisions.
Content moderation helps you boost traffic and improve your SEO
Another benefit of content moderation is that it can help increase traffic to your website and improve your search engine rankings.
UGC, especially reviews and testimonials, is invaluable in bringing new leads to your website. A positive review on a reviews website like Trustpilot may be the difference between a curious consumer choosing your brand over another.
And an Instagram post where a user speaks positively about your product might encourage a few of that user’s followers to head over to your brand’s website and check out those products for themselves.
What’s more, you can then leverage that positive UGC on your website, too. You could add testimonials pulled from user reviews, or maybe a gallery of social media posts generated by users. This is authentic, relevant content, and the more relevant content your website has, the better chances it has of rising to the top of search engine result pages. And without a content moderation strategy, you’ll likely miss out on these gems of UGC.
Content moderation helps you scale your user-generated campaigns
When someone from your team is experienced at moderating content, they’re going to be able to efficiently identify and remove harmful content, while also being able to highlight positive UGC that your brand receives.
This means you’ll be able to run contests, giveaways, or crowdsourcing more smoothly. An experienced moderator will ensure that you’re able to reap the benefits of these campaigns without having to dedicate extra resources.
User-generated campaigns can have a big impact while requiring minimum effort. They can affect consumers' buying decisions and generate valuable content for your brand.
But, to protect your brand’s community and reputation, you need to have a solid content moderation strategy. Use proactive and reactive moderation to make sure that the content published about your brand online doesn’t violate your community guidelines and upholds your digital reputation.
It only takes one scandal to derail your brand’s success. But with content moderation, you can protect against this. Moderation also helps you understand your users and identify content that can help boost traffic to your website.