Winning the Troll Battle
“Don’t feed the trolls” is a common phrase among those on the internet, meaning that if you ignore those who are trying to get a rise out of you, eventually they will give up and move on. However, content is intended to evoke an emotion or reaction from its consumer, so silencing your audience or allowing trolls to take over cannot be the answer. Community guidelines, the rules trolls vehemently ignore, are important to establish and uphold for both the sake of your journalists, content creators and audience. For communities doing more than ignoring, the battle against online trolls has seen several tactics – from the low-tech tactic of eliminating the comment section and user-generated content from the site, to looking for a solution that can manage their user-generated content and community more efficiently.
Media companies employing a low-tech strategy to battle trolls, ultimately lose valuable data and time spent on site. As evidenced in the MIT Sloan Management Review, engaged users are more likely to subscribe to your content, thereby increasing revenue opportunity from subscriptions and advertisers looking for these KPIs. By eliminating the comment section, brands and their writers lose the ability to directly engage with their audience, and audiences lose the incentive to return, register and subscribe. For media companies that choose to keep the comments section open, they often find themselves sifting through the negative comments and spam.
Those that have invested in managing comments and user-generated content found that when the quality of conversation increases, so does the quality and frequency of their audience engagement:
- 35 percent increase in comments per user
- 34 percent increase in replies per user
- 62 percent increase in likes per user
More audience engagement means more audience data, which can inform content strategy, a better user experience, higher conversion rates and more effective targeting. For those who have made the commitment to fostering an online community in line with their brand standards and goals, embracing technological advances such as artificial intelligence as part of their automated moderation can help media companies and content sites do just that.
Automated moderation not only streamlines the workflow of managing user-generated content but also automates the repeatable and inefficient task of human moderation. With AI technology, moderation tools are able to automatically identify patterns in language and significantly reduce the need for human intervention. User-generated content and comments outside of community guidelines are immediately removed, and suspect comments are sent to a queue for resolution in real time.
Moderating comments and user-generated content is essential to winning the war against trolls, which helps grow your online community and the direct relationship with your audience. Though it can be tempting to eliminate comments and user-generated content altogether, doing so sacrifices a healthy, engaged community – and the crucial audience and KPIs that drive subscription and advertising revenue.
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