How to Moderate Comments on Facebook and Instagram

Crystal Cha
Sep 14, 2018 8:12:53 AM

Facebook and Instagram have evolved a lot over the years. Increasingly, these platforms have gone from places to talk about your day to a place for businesses to reach new customers. For Facebook advertisers, it is now easier than ever to add Instagram as another ad placement and reach new audiences from the same Ad Account. 

Whether you are new to social media or an expert, it's always good to stay up-to-date with the basics of these two platforms - and this handy guide will help. 

As a Facebook Marketing Partner for Instagram, we're always testing out new features and tools from these platforms. We've put together our knowledge in this latest step-by-step guide to moderating posts and comments across your Facebook and Instagram properties. We hope you'll find it useful!

Types of user comments on Facebook and Instagram

Before we go into how to moderate comments, let's take a quick look at what types of comments a Business can receive on Facebook and Instagram. By default, there are five major channels on Facebook where you can receive comments or messages from customers and users. 

1. Organic visitor posts to a Facebook Page

By default, users can post text, photos, or videos directly on a Facebook Page. (This setting, however, can be turned off by following the instructions for Facebook here and for Instagram here.)

Whenever a user posts a new post on your Page, you will receive a notification if you are a manager or admin of the Business. These posts can be publicly viewed by anyone and can be found from the left Page sidebar under 'Posts', as shown in the screenshot below.

Visitor posts on Page

2. Organic comments on a Facebook Page or Instagram Profile's published posts

The most visible comments a Business can receive on Facebook and Instagram are the comments made on the published (also called listed or organic) posts posted by a Business on its own Page or Profile.

Comments on listed Page posts

By default, Facebook hides* certain spam comments and both Facebook and Instagram also give you the option to turn on profanity filters, if you prefer that the discussion on your brand properties be kept family-friendly. Instructions on how to adjust the profanity filter can be found here for Facebook, and here for Instagram. You can also turn on comments on specific posts in Instagram by following the steps here.

It's worth noting that there are limitations to fully automated moderation and on average, Facebook misses detecting and hiding up to 68% of spam and profanity comments, according to a recent September 2018 study by BrandBastion which analyzed over 906,000 comments to compare what was detected and hidden by an AI + human combination solution to what was auto-hidden by Facebook. 

*Note: Hidden comments are still visible to the person who posted them and can be viewed by managers and admins, but are not visible to everyone else. 

3. Comments on unlisted ads

These are the comments that most often get overlooked by brands who have a presence on Facebook and Instagram and are running ads. The comments on the organic published posts are usually detected and well-managed by social media teams, while comments on ads go unnoticed.       

Instagram Ad Screenshot   Comments on unlisted Ads

Why is there this big difference? The simple answer is because while Facebook sends you notifications for activity happening on your Page and Profile (including comments on your posts), comments on ads are not considered activity happening on your Page or Profile, and so you do not get notifications.

Additionally, there is no easy way to view these comments except through Ads Manager, by clicking on the live links of individual ads.

This is simply not feasible if you are running dynamic ads with hundreds of individual ad posts per campaign - you can't have hundreds of browser tabs for individual links open just to look through the comments on each of them. 

It is so important for brands to pay as much (if not more) attention to inquiries on the paid side as these posts get so much higher reach and visibility than the organic side, being shown tens of thousands of users, compared to organic posts only being seen by those who visit the page. 

To address this, there is a range of tools available in the market, but their suitability depends on how many ads you are running at the same time - some are more suitable for SMBs running several ads at a time, and others for large scale international advertisers running many different dynamic campaigns at once.

4. Facebook Reviews (or Recommendations)

Another important channel for user-generated content on a Business Page is user recommendations, which can be found under the Reviews tab in the left Page menu. When users leave recommendations, they will also be able to rate your Business, contributing to the overall Business rating on a five-point scale. 

Recommendations and ratings are great social proof of the quality of the products or services you offer. However, having this section active on your Page does require active management. If an unhappy customer posts a negative review, this is visible to anyone viewing your Page. Responding actively to such negative reviews will show others viewing your Page that your Business is open to receiving and takes action on constructive feedback. 

Reviews and Recommendations on Facebook Page

If you prefer to disable the Reviews section on your Page, you can find the instructions for doing so here

5. Direct chat messages 

Last but not least, users on Facebook or Instagram can directly message your Business. On Facebook, how promptly you respond to these messages is what determines whether your Business gets the "Very Responsive to Messages" icon at the top of your Page. (See our blog post for tips on how to get this label turned on.)

Why moderate user comments?

Now that you know what are the different types of user-generated content a Business can receive on Facebook and Instagram, here are a few good reasons to moderate such content:

  • Harmful comments containing spam, scam links, self-promotion by unrelated businesses and influencers, hate speech, profanity, and copyright-infringing content visible on your brand properties are the digital equivalent of graffiti defacing a brand's physical properties. (You wouldn't leave ugly comments scrawled on your company's headquarters, so why would you leave them up on your brand Page?)
  • Brands have seen up to 269% increase in positive user sentiment just by removing harmful comments and distractions, creating space for genuine fan feedback. (Read case study)
  • E-commerce companies have driven up to 24% more conversions by improving the user experience for customers interacting with their ads and removing unpleasant comments from the public view. (Read case study)

How to moderate Facebook and Instagram comments 

We recommend a three-step approach to effective comment moderation - the three Rs: Recognize, React, Respond. In the following paragraphs, we'll break down what each step means with supporting screenshots to guide you along the way.

1. Recognize

Before you can take any actions on harmful comments, you need to be able to first detect and recognize these comments when they are posted on your properties. While Facebook and Instagram provide a great avenue to connect with customers in meaningful ways, they are also abused by spammers, trolls, and bots trying to take advantage of your brand's wide reach.

As highlighted above, it is relatively easier to find these comments on organic listed posts. It's much more challenging to find these comments on unlisted ad posts without the help of a third-party solution. If you still want to look for these comments manually in Ads Manager, you can do so by following the following steps. 

Step 1 - From Ads Manager, navigate to the Ads tab in the horizontal menu. Select with a checkbox the specific ad you want to review, then click the Preview as shown below.

Preview Ad on Facebook Ads Manager

Step 2 - A pop-up will appear on the screen. Click the More icon on the top right corner of the pop-up. A drop-down menu will appear. Under See post, select Facebook post with comments or Instagram post with comments if you are running ads on Instagram and want to take a look at the comments there. 

View Facebook post with comments

After clicking the link, you'll be taken to the live post where you can see all comments on it. This post is only visible to people whom the ad is targeted to. 

What kinds of harmful comments should you be recognizing and identifying? In our experience working with large advertisers to protect their brands on Facebook, we recommend paying close attention to the following categories of comments:

  • Customer inquiries / complaints - Most of these comments require responses, and responding promptly can help drive a sale or stem frustrated customer backlashes.
  • Positive customer feedback - On the flip side of customer complaints, you may also receive glowing customer reviews praising your product or service. Responding to these comments could make the difference between a happy customer - and a loyal customer for life. 
  • Spam and scams - These include links to fraudulent websites, click-bait article links, and other content that distract from your brand message and could be potentially very harmful to your customers if they click on them.
  • Hate speech and other offensive content - Trolls are an unavoidable part of social media, but it is important to attend to these comments to keep the experience clean and positive for customers interacting with the brand. When users see a brand ignoring or leaving vulgar, discriminatory comments up, it could lead to negative associations or the brand being perceived as "not caring". 
  • Competitor promotions - Due to the decrease in organic social reach, unrelated businesses and influencers may try to ride on the huge reach that your ads have and promote their own content instead. While this is not critically damaging to brand reputation, these links lead people away from the content you are spending money to promote and decreases the ad's effectiveness and return on ad spend. 

2. React

The next step is to react to these comments you have identified.

Harmful comments - For Facebook, we recommend that these be hidden instead of deleted, as experience shows that when users are aware that their comments have been deleted, they get even more angry and tend to respond by posting a flood of fresh comments. Not great for brand appearances. 

Hiding a comment means that it stays visible to the person who posted it and Business managers (Admins, Editors, and Moderators), but cannot be viewed by others looking at the Page.

Unfortunately, this option does not apply to Instagram as Instagram does not allow businesses to manually hide individual comments, and the only option is to delete. With third-party tools like BrandBastion, however, hiding comments on Instagram can be done via an API. 

To hide a comment on Facebook, simply click on the icon with the three dots to the right of the comment, and click Hide Comment.

Hide Facebook post comment

Positive customer feedback - These comments should be Liked to show appreciation and to let customers and fans know you've taken the time to read their comment.  

Customer inquiries and complaints - These should be escalated to the right team members so they can be handled in a courteous, professional, and prompt way. 

3. Respond

The final step in moderating comments on Facebook and Instagram is to respond to comments that need to be responded to. 

Positive customer feedback - Thank the customer for their feedback. In your response, you could even point them to more content / product recommendations that they might be interested in. For highly engaged fans, you might even want to consider inviting them to an invite-only community group linked to your Page for them to interact with other like-minded fans and your business. 

Customer inquiries and complaints - In our experience, we have found that prompt and courteous responses go a long way in diffusing angry comments. Often, the user responds back in a calmer tone thanking the brand for the reply. 

Following a few simple steps when replying to customer inquiries and complaints can go a long way in keeping customers happy and also contributing to a positive brand image when others notice the brand engaging on social media. Here is a simple outline you can use to respond to such comments:

  • Thank the customer for their question or complaint. ("Hi Marty, thanks for taking the time to let us know about this." "Hi Jane, thanks for your question!")
  • Acknowledge the situation. ("I'm sorry to hear your delivery has been delayed." "We understand there is a lot of anticipation about when the products will be released in Europe.")
  • Tell them what actions they can take next to get what they are looking for. ("Could you privately send us your order number so we can investigate further?" "Sign up for our mailing list to be the first in the know when our products are available at a store near you!")

We hope this guide has been useful for you. If you'd like to receive more guides like these and other tips and news from the world of social media marketing in your inbox, please subscribe below!

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