Civilize & Monetize: How to Highlight Constructive vs. Toxic Comments

Civilize & Monetize: How to Highlight constructive vs. toxic comments


  1. A moderation strategy keeps your digital spaces safe, but should also include how to drive positive conversations
  2. Positive, active communities are lucrative for publishers
    1. 80% of all user registrations are triggered on pages that feature onsite engagement tools and user-generated content.
    2. Registered users spend 225% more time-consuming media content per week.*
      1. *Viafoura study data collected Jan 2019 – May 2019, sampled 14 unique media brands, sampled 85M unique non-registered and 2.5M registered users
  3. Help spark the conversation, pose thoughtful questions
  4. Highlight positive community members, not only does it encourage more engagement, it shows the kind of engagement you’re looking for
  5. Community guidelines must be clear and easily accessible to your community

Online social spaces exist to build value for your community members, generating engagement and loyalty toward your brand. And these tools are most effective when media organizations support them with the right strategies that maximize user activity. 

A moderation strategy, for example, is necessary for businesses to keep their digital social spaces civil. But media companies must go beyond reducing offensive comments and trolls in their social spaces to facilitate ideal behavior from audience members.

“Just as it’s important to have a strategy in place to protect the quality of your on-site social spaces, it’s also crucial to have a strategy to drive positive conversation around your content,” says Leigh Adams, director of moderation solutions at Viafoura. 

In other words, if you want to drive positive behavior from your community members, you’ll need to take action by encouraging users to participate in meaningful, on-topic discussions.

The Value of Activating Productive Discussion

In the digital world, active communities are incredibly lucrative for media companies. 

You can draw on your users’ engagement and behavioral data to personalize their experience and increase your website or app’s appeal to advertisers. Plus, you can assess what people post about to determine the types of content that will resonate the most with your online community. 

Keep in mind that digital conversation tools also connect people together, forming long-lasting relationships that are tied to your brand. 

But you can’t assume that people will become active, model community members unless they understand what kind of discussions and behaviors are expected of them. 

Media organizations that take the time to outline and promote what positive behavior looks like for their communities will be well-positioned to grow attention levels, memberships and various revenue streams. 

“The most thriving and profitable online communities are often the ones where positive behavior is encouraged, demonstrated and rewarded by the community host,” Adams explains. “No matter how intuitive and engaging your moderation tools are, you need to develop a battle plan if you want to activate your community effectively.”

Ultimately, media organizations can take a few simple steps to ensure their communities are overflowing with activity:

Pose Questions for Users To Answer

If you want to increase activity from your digital community, you can spark discussions and debates by showcasing thought-provoking questions.

“One of the best ways to keep discussions in your commenting section buzzing and on-topic is to give your readers a prompt through a question that relates to your content,” Adams states. “Not everyone will understand how you want them to behave if you don’t give them some level of guidance to follow.” 

Consider highlighting questions for community members at the bottom of your content piece. Or, you can pin them as posts within your commenting widget.

Interacting with your community members, even by just getting a conversation started, will give users the direction they need to post comments that are on-topic and positive.

Reward and Highlight Model Behavior

Your community members play a significant role in the success of your business. So how are you taking the time to reward your most active users? 

“By rewarding commenters for positive and productive contributions, you’re incentivizing your most loyal supporters to continue participating in your digital community,” says Adams.

There are several ways you can show readers that you appreciate good behavior. 

You can give top contributors badges based on their participation levels, pin their comments to the top of your commenting widget, invite them to help you moderate live events and send them an email to thank them.

Set Up Clear, Accessible Community Guidelines

Your community guidelines essentially act as a blueprint for acceptable and positive behavior on your website or app. 

According to Adams, you should be direct in your community guidelines — tell your audience exactly what’s expected of their behavior on your digital properties. That includes outlining what kind of behavior isn’t appropriate. 

Adams suggests “your guidelines should make it clear that comments that appear legally objectionable or [encourage/condone] a criminal offense or any form of violence or harassment, will NOT be tolerated.”

Crafting clear community guidelines posted in an easy-to-access spot on your digital property will pave the way for acceptable behavior and positive conversations.

Media organizations must implement strategies to outline, reward, highlight and facilitate positive behavior in their online communities. By doing so, companies can benefit from a closely connected, active and growing audience that can be monetized continuously.

For more information on how to build positive behavior in your community, view a list of community-building best practices here.

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