When talking to clients about their social media strategy, one of the biggest concerns I hear about is loss of control. Adding a company blog (or any social or community feature) to an existing web presence can give some organizations a heart attack - largely because they fear anyone can come in and leave negative and/or damaging commentary.
Integrating a little Web 2.0 flavor to your website doesn't have to equal a free-for-all of negativity and profanity. As a company, you reserve the right to create and enforce a clear Commenting and Moderation Policy.
Following are the basics that you'll want to cover in your guidelines:
- What's acceptable, what's not acceptable.
State that you won't allow duplicate comments, personal attacks of any kind, comments that explicitly promote a product or service (spam), and comments that are vulgar, vile, cruel, or off-topic.
- Visitor Privacy
Make a note that discourages the posting of phone numbers or email addresses in the body of the comment.
- Moderation Process
Be clear about your moderation process - whether you are allowing all comments to be posted immediately and reviewing later, or holding all comments in queue for moderation. If you're moderating, commit to a period of time (typically 24-48 hours) within which you promise to post the content.
Additionally, don't be afraid to allow negative comments if they are intelligent in nature and on-topic. This gives you the chance to publicly follow up and enter the conversation. (The alternative is to never post it and cross your fingers that the same commenter doesn't take the conversation to another digital channel, where you have zero control.)
A clear, concise commenting and moderation policy might ease your fears - just like with any playground, it never hurts to set the rules up front.