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Why You Should Moderate User-Generated Content and How You Can Do It

user generated content moderation

User-generated content (UGC) is everywhere! The various social media channels and content sharing platforms all over the web have paved the way for a whole new era of self-expression. Today, anyone can make videos, live stream, express themselves on social media platforms, or write content — the digital world is your oyster!

Marketers were quick to pick up on this growing trend and turn it into an asset. Many brands the world over use UGC in their campaigns nowadays, and quite successfully while we’re at it! According to Adweek, 93% of consumers stated they found UGC helpful when making purchasing decisions. But that is not the only advantage this type of content provides! If you want a more detailed overview of the advantages and disadvantages of user-generated content, you can find it in our previous article here

Despite the numerous benefits UGC brings to the table, you can’t just let people run rampant with their content on your website or forum. Everyone who’s been on the internet for more than a few minutes knows what the online ecosystem is like. The level of anonymity the digital world provides makes it a highly volatile place. That is why user-generated content moderation is essential for any brand willing to go down this path!

But why is UGC moderation vital, and how can you approach it? That’s what we’re going to address in this article!

However, before we get to these two questions, there is something we should address first. Before you can even consider moderating user-generated content, you must first make sure you have the right to use it. Let’s begin by taking a look at how you can get the necessary permissions to use user-generated content!

Getting the Necessary Permissions

Although there is no universal copyright law, user-generated content belongs to the original creator, and most courts in the world would abide by that premise. The same applies even to social media posts, despite their being on a public domain. An example of one such ownership dispute that was taken to court is the France Presse v. Morel case. A professional photographer pressed charges against a news agency for using his photographs without permission and won the case.

With that in mind, if you want to avoid all legal liability, you must get appropriate permissions before using user-generated content. Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Ask the user for permission directly and archive the conversation.
  • If you’re making a social media campaign, create an approval hashtag. That way, you can let your users know that if they decide to participate, they’ll be giving you the right to use their content.
  • When working with influencers, specify the permissions for UGC use in your contract.
  • Include a UGC-ownership clause in your Terms & Conditions. Here’s an example:

Once you’re all set on the legal side of things, it’s time to consider user-generated content moderation! Let’s begin by taking a look at why you should moderate UGC in the first place.

Why You Should Moderate User-Generated Content

Depending on the type of website you have or the service you provide, the reasons you should moderate UGC may vary. Whether they are to eliminate internet trolls, uphold a particular standard of content quality, remove spam contents, or protect yourself from Black Hat SEO, user-generated content moderation will be an integral part of your content marketing strategy. These reasons can apply to a wide range of businesses, though, so there is no single best method of UGC moderation. However, we will give you an example of how your moderation process may end up looking.

Pre-Moderation:

  • Since you have no control over the content creation process, you will have to make sure the content meets your brand’s standards and goals. In other words, you will hand-pick the content you wish to use.
  • You will need to edit and proofread the content before you publish it as users submitting it come from all corners of the world and have varying levels of language mastery.
  • You will have to check for any toxic or inappropriate links or promotions within the content and remove or change them.

Real-Time Moderation:

  • After your content is live, you will have to pay close attention to user comments. You will have to eliminate any harmful links, explicit material, or targeted harassment.
  • You will have to keep a close eye on any potential scammers or users misrepresenting themselves, for example, and ban the transgressing accounts promptly.
  • Introduce a reporting or flagging system so that your users can report harmful or inappropriate content and send it to you for a manual review.

As you can see, user-generated content moderation can be quite demanding, but it’s still essential to protecting your brand’s reputation. Neglecting to moderate your UGC assets could lead to irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation, so don’t try to cut costs on it!

Now it’s time to look at all the ways you can moderate your UGC.

How You Can Moderate User-Generated Content

Depending on your brand’s needs and budget, you have multiple options when it comes to the means of user-generated content moderation.

A.I. Moderation

One of the cheapest ways to moderate your user-generated content is by using an A.I. or an algorithm. Brands should settle for this option if they are looking to pinch pennies. Otherwise, hiring full-time human moderators is a better option. But why is that? It’s quite simple — algorithms are flawed. Just take a look at YouTube as an example and the number of complaints they get daily about unsubstantiated demonetization.

But if you settle for this option, there are two categories of A.I. moderation you can pick between:

  • Generic A.I. Moderation — These algorithms refer to all clients, so they often fail to take context into account when operating. That is why using these may result in plenty of wrong sanctions on your users’ content.
  • Tailored A.I. Moderation — These algorithms are programmed to cater to a single client. That means their code is better adapted to the needs of specific communities or markets. That is why they offer much better accuracy than their generic counterparts.

Either way, you’d be better off going for human moderators if you have the budget. Speaking of which… 

Full-Time Human Moderation

Having a well-trained live moderator is always a better choice than leaving the job to an algorithm. Here are some of the benefits of full-time human moderators over A.I. ones:

  • They understand context.
  • They can work with all types of content (images, videos, text, entire profiles, etc.).
  • These workers don’t take long to train, while coding a moderation algorithm takes time.
  • They provide more reliable reports.
  • They can actively interact with content owners and gather extra information about the infringement.

However, having a dedicated content moderation team can be quite pricey. If you don’t want to settle for an automatic moderation system but don’t have the budget to cover the expenses of an in-house team, you have one more option.

Freelance Moderation 

Hiring remote workers to take care of your user-generated content moderation needs is a sound option if you’re trying to cut costs. Freelancers and outsourced workers are usually cheaper than in-house employees, and you aren’t geographically limited to a specific part of the world. Unfortunately, these advantages of freelance moderation are also some of this option’s primary drawbacks.

Working with remote teams will make the onboarding process and training harder. It will also make it more challenging for the employees to familiarize themselves with your website and product due to distance. Another potential flaw of this method might be the lack of supervision over the moderators. Some freelancers might purely focus on maximizing their output while sacrificing the quality of their work.

An alternative to freelancers would be to hire a content moderation service instead. There are many content moderation companies out there that you can employ to take care of all your UGC moderation needs. Just do keep in mind that this option is even more expensive than hiring an in-house moderation team. So consider this option only if you have a large budget!

Don’t Neglect the Importance of User-Generated Content Moderation!

Do you moderate your user-generated content? If not, what are you waiting for? Scrutinizing your UGC is imperative if you want to avoid potential damage to your brand’s reputation. And no, discarding UGC is a considerable loss for your brand. So don’t take the easy way out! 

We hope you found this article helpful. Best of luck to you on your user-generated content moderation journey!

Until next time!

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