Isolation - Fear - Anger - Confusion
Empathy - Laughter - Hope - Support
Right now the emotional state of your community is changing at rapid speed - akin to riding a rollercoaster in the dark. The hive mind will change more often, sporadically, and have unexpected reactions to the most basics of content. While we are familiar with the vitriol that usually accompanies daily social media checks, during a large scale crisis things will take unexpected twists and turns and emotions will change on a dime. Your online team needs to be not just prepared, but able and ready to change and adjust accordingly.
A recent study in France found that the announcement to begin quarantining coincided with the highest level of social media activity recorded in 30 days, with 300,000 original posts and 740,000 re-tweets. And “Reactions to self-isolation and it’s impact overshadowed all other conversations.”
How your moderation and engagement team engage the community during times of crisis will not only shape the future of your reputation, but could also save lives.
To quote Buzzfeed Tech News: “The comment moderator is the most important job in the world right now. [And] Human moderation is currently the best solution for policing harmful content.”
And this New York Times article describes the role of Moderator as “...gatekeepers, but they’re also the welcoming committee. As well as the paramedics, the law enforcers, the teachers and the curators. And, sometimes, they’re friends.”
In cases such as the coronavirus and a national quarantine, people become isolated out of necessity; which can take a toll on mental and emotional health. Social media and online community outreach becomes not just about like-minded individuals but a real life necessity. It's how many people can connect and keep their mental health in check.
Charities such as the NSPCC have reported as much as a 28% increase in mental health calls during the quarantine in the first 3 weeks of lockdown, and they report that “calls to Childline have ‘significantly increased’:
In today’s new normal of quarantine and isolation, your moderation and engagement team will have additional tasks to perform and need to perform them knowing that their tone, state of mind and tasks will change on a dime. People will need to be directed to the right places for answers to their issues. In fact, moderators will need to be quick to translate confusing, emotionally charged messages into understandable content to ensure they can quickly direct the user to the right place.
Rebecca Fitzgerald, Managing Director and Founder of StrawberrySocial, recalls and compares this crisis to her experience working during previous crises which tended to be more isolated to one culture or country:
"The scale of this is different from previous crises as it affects everyone globally and is ongoing. There is no 'tail end' in sight. In many ways the online world resembles a swarm of bees all buzzing around the hive, leaping on each new move from the Queen. We're seeing anger, frustration, need and scared exhaustion across every channel and every brand.
Twitter appears to be leading the charge when it comes to anger and frustration, it really has become THE place where any 'reasonable' voice will be shut down in seconds. We're also seeing big spikes in traffic for online providers, whether internet, TV, food delivery, etc. Customer service is quite frankly being overwhelmed and has become a battering post for people showing how lockdown, and that loss of freedom, has affected their logical brain."
Below are 5 best practices to curating your community during an unexpected natural disaster or global crisis:
1. Emotional Preparation - Ensure the moderation team is in place and mentally/emotionally prepared to handle the increase in content. They MUST have backup and support. Provide them with a way to handle peoples’ expectations - be able to have timelines to feed back to the user.
2. Workload Preparation - Quickly prepare basic responses so the moderation team can respond in as close to real time with correct brand information, bu broad enough to allow the team the freedom necessary to humanise each response. Trust they will handle things appropriately.
3. Robotic isn't going to work - under normal circumstances companies can make great use of standardised responses; which are great for answering basic questions, showing positive support and directing people to the right place on your site. During a crisis, the amount of content will increase and people’s emotional stability will be sporadic. They will notice if the same response is slightly tweaked and sent over and over in the same thread.
Allowing moderators to adjust the messaging, make responses more personalised and unique will easily show your users that there is a human being behind each message. Check the existing conversation so as to avoid repetition!
4. It's okay to not know - and to say this to the community. And it’s okay for your community to be upset and share vulnerability. Your moderation team should be allowed a certain amount of vulnerability with the community as well. It’s all about connection right now.
5. Checking in - Schedule regular check-ins with your team, consider shortening shift lengths or additional shift rotations of team members are good ideas. This will be draining emotionally, mentally, professionally and there should be regular times set up to talk through things, give them space to breathe, and make suggestions to improve the overall online experience for your community.
For more information on how we can help you during this health crisis, contact us using our online form or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs that can help: