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Best practices — monitoring and listening

These moderation and listening guidelines can serve as a starting point for social media comment moderation. If you have a question that is not addressed by these guidelines, let us know

 Guidelines for responding as ASU on branded social media accounts:

  • Transparency is not optional. Resist the urge to simply delete posts on Facebook from surly students/faculty/other. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and you WILL be called out. Deleting comments could also be seen as an infringement of first amendment rights. For platforms where we cannot hide posts, we recommend only deleting posts that are egregious examples of spamming the accounts, promoting illegal activities or advocating for violence against a person or community.

  • Engage — but don’t argue. 
  • Acknowledge frustrations. Showing empathy and acknowledging the person’s complaint is sometimes the recognition they seek — they may want to simply be heard. For example: “I hear your frustration. How can I help?”

  • Work to resolve. In addition to acknowledging, you want to address the situation. Remember that you do not have to resolve the issue or concern in platform — sometimes the best course of action is to connect them with the appropriate department contact at ASU to address their needs.

  • Remember that, for the audience, you are speaking as your unit/department.

  • Keep it short. Avoid getting pulled into a long discussion of what went wrong. Instead, try to move the conversation to a more personal channel, like private messaging. Furthermore, if possible, offer a phone number, email address, or other means of communicating outside of social media. This tells the person who you are messaging with that we hear them, and want to make right by them.

    Of course, some people will simply keep arguing until we stop responding. When it’s clear we’re not making progress, acknowledge the concerns and frustrations, but stop taking the bait. Getting pulled into a fight online will not improve the situation. During a social media crisis, people are watching, so we’ve simply got to take the high road.

  • During social media crises, use only approved messages/responses from Media Relations and Strategic Communications.

  • Stopgap message options. There will be times when you will not have a response for a particular question ready to go. For cases such as those, one of the following stopgap messages may be used:

    • Thank you for reaching out to us. We are looking into this situation.
    • Thank you for contacting us. We will reach out to the team in charge to let them know about (insert situation). This could be good for complaints about facilities, etc.).
    • Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
    • Thank you for letting us know so we can look into this.
    • Thank you for letting us know, and we appreciate your patience while we look into this.
  • Confidential and private information. There might be times when you receive a question through social media regarding private information (example: “Is my son enrolled in Course X?” or “I would like to contact X student/alumni/staff member.” 

  • Never address sensitive, personal information in an open forum like a social network.  As a reminder, ASU-owned social media resources or accounts cannot be used to disclose or disseminate any confidential or protected information, including, but not limited to: (1) personnel information of any ASU employee; (2) information that is protected under FERPA, HIPAA or any other legal privilege or confidentiality; (3) proprietary information of others without their permission, such as copyright- or trademark-protected information; or (4) ASU’s proprietary information, without permission from an appropriate authority at ASU. 

    If the question at hand involves sensitive data, let the individual know that the situation will be handled privately to avoid any security or privacy (FERPA, etc.) issues. Whenever possible, aim to move the conversation from the public comments section to a private message so that you can provide the necessary information that the user is looking for.

  • Moving conversations to direct messages for more information/further assistance:

    On Twitter, you can include a specially formatted link in a Tweet, and Twitter will automatically transform that link into a simple call-to-action that guides users straight into composing a new Direct Message to you, with the public Tweet visible for context.

    Using this feature is easy, but requires that your account settings are set to “Receive Direct Messages from Anyone” (Settings > Security and Privacy > Privacy). 

    You also need to include a link in your Tweet using the following format: https://twitter.com/messages/compose?recipient_id={your account’s numeric user ID} — locate your User ID here.

  • When to…

    • Respond — Respond to good-faith inquiries about policies and programs being implemented on campus, customer service issues, as well as good-faith complaints.

      For most questions, answers will be available in the asu.edu ecosystem.

    • Escalate — For issues unrelated to your unit or department, reach out to the marketing/social media staff at the unit in question.

      If a user is not satisfied with a response, after two interactions, provide contact information for the ASU Experience Center and refer them to it. 

    • Watch — Monitor key terms/comments to make sure that you are able to identify emerging topics before they become a crisis.

      Closely monitor your notifications and inboxes for direct messages. If sensitive information is received, escalate immediately to your media relations team, who may choose to escalate to ASU Media Relations and the ASU Police Department (if necessary) to investigate. 

    • Report — Escalate potential issues and complaints if they touch any of these subjects:

      Abuse, threats, discrimination, harassment, stalking, racism, sexism (and any other potential criminal activity). Additionally, any potential safety issues related that could draw law enforcement or media attention should also be escalated immediately to your media relations team, who may choose to escalate further. 

      If you receive sensitive information, escalate immediately to your media relations team, who may choose to further escalate to Media Relations and ASU PD to investigate. 

  • Happy people want attention too. Just because they’re not complaining doesn’t mean they don’t want a response or acknowledgment. Social media is social and about engagement at its core.

  • Tip: Create a social media “Terms of Use” document to explain to followers how you handle spam, offensive or threatening language, talk of illegal activity, etc. You may refer to this if a user questions why their post was removed. See the ASU Facebook account example.

More info

ASU Brand Guidelines — Writing Style 

Moving public to private conversations on Twitter 

Brandwatch for social media monitoring