Whether you’re an influencer, content creator, or business owner, one way to expand your online reach is to establish a social media group or online community platform. Online communities serve as a virtual space to gather people who share common interests, concerns, and beliefs. They’re also a great way to gather customers or followers who want regular updates about your business or activities.
Establishing an online community is not just about creating a social media group and inviting people to join it. The successful management of an online group requires planning, patience, perspective, and a lot of preparation. Some even manage their own branded community platform to bring together people in a safe space they own and control.
Community moderation has never been more critical in a digital environment where internet trolls abound. Although internet trolls have been around for as long as the internet has existed, we cannot ignore the toxic culture they have created in what is supposed to be a healthy online environment.
Most Facebook groups are facing growth, especially those managing thousands to millions of members. With so many people to manage, proper moderation is essential to avoid slipping into the traps of toxic online culture. One of the primary roles of being a good moderator is setting the balance between managing interactions and staying on the topic to ensure order. The last thing you want is to make members feel unsafe when expressing their ideas or opinions.
With that in mind, we’ll talk about the good practices of community moderation to avoid creating a toxic culture in your social media group.
Establish community policy
A community policy or guideline serves as the pillar of every online community. It refers to the set of rules or standards for proper conduct, language, and content. When joining any online community, it’s essential to check if the group has an already implemented community policy to ensure you’re entering a safe space.
Although a community policy doesn’t eliminate the presence of trolls and spammers, setting rules will give you the upper hand on what people should post on the social media group. If someone posts or comment something negative, members can submit the report to the moderator and use the policy as grounds to suspend the membership of the troll.
Without a set of guidelines, anything goes within the community. This means members are prone to trolling, cyberbullying, and other forms of online harassment. This can affect the level of engagement of your community because people will choose to leave than stay in a virtual space where toxic culture thrives.
When creating a community policy, make sure to include the objectives of the social media group, list of moderators, language standards, geographic focus, grounds or process for membership removal, and definition of spam, inappropriate content, and harmful conduct.
Moderators should set the example
Every social media group requires a moderator to facilitate discussions. They set the tone of online groups and act as leaders who serve as great examples to community members. They also establish the value of the community by taking ownership of how members use the group.
Recruiting group moderators work best for groups with active members that one person cannot manage alone. If we’re talking about thousands or millions of members, a handful of people cannot manage workload by themselves. Hire a group of moderators who are especially good at handling people, answering inquiries, and starting conversations.
But before you let them take over the community, you have to orient them about the community policy and how they should set an example to the members. Teach them how to remove inappropriate content and flag trolls and spammers. Members naturally follow by example. They rely on moderators on how to navigate the group and ways to engage with other members.
Eliminate all forms of negativity
Social media groups have various ways of handling toxicity. This is where the community policy comes in handy to empower your moderators and players and eliminate the worst ones.
When dealing with a problem member, reach out to them privately to identify specific issues they’re experiencing. At the same time, assure community members that you won’t tolerate negative behaviors in the group and those who violate will be dealt with appropriately. More importantly, treat members with due respect and make efforts in creating a place open for engagement and healthy discussions.
Whatever the goal of your social media group, it’s crucial to prioritize the safety of your members. An online community won’t thrive if your members don’t feel it’s safe to express their thoughts. Any online community requires a set of expectations and social norms so that negativity and unproductive behavior won’t prosper. As you build momentum, it will be easy for you to achieve the goals of your online community.