PMG Digital Made for Humans

Placing Daisies In Gun Barrels: A Performance Marketer’s Guide to Social Media Moderation

3 MINUTE READ | April 24, 2014

Placing Daisies In Gun Barrels: A Performance Marketer’s Guide to Social Media Moderation

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PMG is a global independent digital company that seeks to inspire people and brands that anything is possible. Driven by shared success, PMG uses business strategy and transformation, creative, media, and insights, along with our proprietary marketing intelligence platform Alli, to deliver Digital Made for Humans™. With offices in New York, London, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Atlanta, and Cleveland, our team is made up of over 900+ employees globally, and our work for brands like Apple, Nike, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Gap Inc., Kohler, Momentive, Sephora, and Shake Shack has received top industry recognitions including Cannes Lions and Adweek Media Plan of the Year.

For about two weeks now, I’ve been conducting social media moderation with the support of our social team for a large retail brand. Most of this curation has been predominantly on Facebook. The firmest conclusions I’ve drawn from my experience are as follows:

  1. This job is not for the faint of heart.

  2. If you’re going to do it, do it well.

In this scenario, social media moderation is the act of posting content and responding to users who comment, post, and message a brand on the brand’s social media page.

If you’re easily excitable, quick tempered, or soft-spirited, you may have some issues getting the hang of things. After the first two days of moderation, I (jokingly, of course) told people that I had lost all faith in humanity. The way customers spoke to each other on the brand page was enough to gray my hair, let alone some of their comments directed towards the brand. I found myself getting heated at times and having to walk away from the computer screen, constantly reminding myself, “This is not directed at me. These people don’t know me. They have no idea who’s behind the curtain.” Was I seriously expected to answer these people nicely? Was I really expected to be calm and courteous to these people who were figuratively beating down the brand page’s door with cyber pitchforks and virtual battering rams? The answer put simply: yes. These days, people are 100% plugged in. The notion of dialing a number and listening to an automated phone service to file a complaint sounds so 20th century to us, practically ancient if you talk to anyone born after Y2K. A brand’s social media presence is quickly becoming the lifeblood of its customer service department, and any brand that refuses to subscribe to this notion is already losing the game.

According to, 42% of consumers who interact with a brand’s social media page believe they should receive a response within a single hour of their initial post. One hour. If that doesn’t convince you how crucial this moderation stuff is, I don’t know what will. The practice of customer service has changed from a one-way broadcast from a team of sales associates to a personal conversation between new acquaintances. Consumers want to connect with brands in a way that makes them feel just that – connected. When using a scripted response matrix, people can tell a brand isn’t being genuine. I’ve even seen users comment on how a brand sounds “too robotic” or “automated.” The worst thing you can do as a brand on social media is forget to be human.

What it really boils down to is that people aren’t looking for just a brand’s response on social media… they’re looking to be heard. Sometimes the only way to redirect the gun barrel is to stick a daisy in it. In order to de-escalate consumer conflict, brands have to learn to bring peace, maturity, and understanding to the conversation. The biggest thing you can do as a brand is to actually listen to your customers’ problems and find your own way to say, “Hey- we hear you, we understand you, and here’s how we’re going to help.”

Simply put, just follow these general guidelines while remembering to stay true to your brand:

  1. Respond promptly

  2. Sound genuine and be genuine

  3. Listen closely and respond with compassion

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If a brand can figure out these parts of the equation, it’s that much closer to achieving the much-coveted ideal of “brand loyalty” and that much farther from the 1-800 lines of yesteryear.

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