Today, user-generated content like chat, private messaging, comments, images, and videos are all must-haves in an overstuffed market where user retention is critical to long-term success. Users love to share, and nothing draws a crowd like a crowd — and a crowd of happy, loyal, and welcoming users will always bring in more happy, loyal, and welcoming users.
But as we’ve seen all too often, there is risk involved when you have social features on your platform. You run the risk of users posting offensive content – like hate speech, NSFW images, and harassment – which can cause serious damage to your brand’s reputation.
That’s why understanding the risks when adding social features to your product are also critical to long-term success.
Here are four questions to consider when it comes to user-generated content on your platform.
1. How much risk is my brand willing to accept?
Every brand is different. Community demographic will usually be a major factor in determining your risk tolerance.
Communities with under-13 users in the US have to be COPPA compliant, so preventing them from sharing PII (personally identifiable information) is essential. Edtech platforms should be CIPA and FERPA compliant.
If your users are teens and 18+, you might be less risk-averse, but will still need to define your tolerance for high-risk content.
Consider your brand’s tone and history. Review your corporate guidelines to understand what your brand stands for. This is a great opportunity to define exactly what kind of an online community you want to create.
2. What type of high-risk content is most dangerous to my brand?
Try this exercise: Imagine that just one pornographic post was shared on your platform. How would it affect the brand? How would your audience react? How would your executive team respond? What would happen if the media/press found out?
What about hate speech? Sexual harassment? What is your brand’s definition of abuse or harassment? The better you can define these often vague terms, the better you will understand what kind of content you need to moderate.
3. How will I communicate my expectations to the community?
Don’t expect your users to automatically know what is and isn’t acceptable on your platform. Post your community guidelines where users can see them. And make sure users have to agree to your guidelines before they can post.
4. What content moderation tools and strategies can I leverage to protect my community?
We recommend taking a proactive instead of a reactive approach to managing risk and protecting your community. That means finding the right blend of pre- and post-moderation for your platform, while also using a mixture of automated artificial intelligence with real human moderation.
On top of these techniques, there are also different tools you can use to take a proactive approach, including in-house filters (read about the build internally vs buy externally debate), or content moderation solutions like Two Hat’s Community Sift (learn about the difference between a simple profanity filter and a content moderation tool).
While social features may be inherently risky, remember that they’re also inherently beneficial to your brand and your users. Whether you’re creating a new social platform or adding chat and images to your existing product, nothing engages and delights users more than being part of a positive and healthy online community.
And if you’re not sure where to start – we have good news. Two Hat is currently offering a no-cost, no-obligation community audit. Our team of industry experts will examine your community, locate high-risk areas, and identify how we can help solve any moderation challenges.
It’s a unique opportunity to sit down with our Director of Community Trust & Safety to see how you can mitigate risk in your community.