How Facebook's Timeline Alters Your Wall Moderation

Timeline for brand pages offers more ways to moderate your wall comments, but doesn't eliminate the need for third-party moderation tools.

Timeline for brand pages offers more ways to moderate wall comments, but they don’t replace the need for third-party tools if you’ve got an active fan base.

On top of your page you now have access to a comprehensive administration panel that gives you a view of all the essential information about your page’s activity. This area gives you access to two main features useful for moderation, the notification area and the activity log.

What’s the difference between the two? The notification area tells you that someone posted something on your page, without supplying any additional information. The activity log shows you the content of that post.

The move to timeline hasn’t affected the block list filters for specific words or users — these options are still there, nestled between new settings.

You can input any and all words that you want to block, which can save you quite a bit of time going through posts that have cuss words in them. Words you’ve chosen to block out get treated as spam, not appearing on your wall but showing up greyed out in the administration view so you can decide whether to allow them.

Depending on the focus of your page, you could skip this filter altogether. Think of Facebook as the equivalent of a rated PG-13 movie. Remember that Facebook’s rules state that the minimum required age is 13, although kids younger than that lie about their age when opening accounts.

Just like before, you can decide whether to allow fans to post comments, photos and videos on your timeline. You probably want to allow all three, unless something about your business calls for a more conservative approach.

Now there’s two things that are new here and most beneficial for pages with lots of fan engagement. First, you can choose whether to display fans’ recent posts at the top of your administrator panel in a window labeled “recent posts by others.” Second, you can opt to require that all comments get approved by an admin before becoming visible to the public.

Know The Limits

As good as the notification and activity log features may look, they are far from reliable for moderation purposes. The notification area shows who’s liked your posts, without telling you which particular post. You have to click on the reference to likes to get taken to the post that’s liked, which requires you to scroll back up if you want to make a comparison.

The same goes for the listings of comments on posts. To see which posts are being referred to, you have to click on the references to comments, and then scroll back up to the notification area if you want to make comparisons. It’s even more confusing if you have an active page, because the notification only names a couple of fans commenting on the post, and leaves the rest anonymous.

If you opt to receive email notifications about likes and comments, you’ll see a bit more details — maybe 15 to 25 percent of your page activity will show up, assuming you’re getting at least 10 comments a day. But the emails don’t contain context, like the substance of the posts people are commenting on. So all the emails do is divert your attention from your wall.

Then there’s the activity log. It looks at first like you’re getting a comprehensive view of moderation, but it’s not. This is only showing you maybe a tenth of what’s happening on your page.

While Facebook has promised that five tiers of timeline page admin priveleges will become available, we’ve yet to see tools for coordinating multiple admins will come with that. To work together as a team, page admins will need to mark content as reviewed or to assign, flag or tag it.

If your page is small in size, but more importantly has a low level of activity, the new moderation features should be enough for your moderation needs. The fact that email notifications are not reliable can be overcome by subscribing to RSS notifications and checking your admin panel to see the latest contributions.

Third Party Tools

As soon as your page engagement grows, Facebook’s native moderation tools show their limits. That’s when third-party applications start to look like a good idea. For notification purposes, Hyper Alert will do a great job, and best of all, it’s free! You can even receive notification from competitor’s pages, can be useful.

If you need more than just notifications, there are several options. The expensive ones are Buddy Media, Vitrue, or Involver. But you’ll have to spend several hundred to several thousand dollars a month. Sure, you’ll get a lot more than just moderation features, but still, small and medium businesses are not welcome.

If your needs are limited to moderation only, Conversocial can be a good choice. It’s free for solo community managers, and starts at $149 a month for a team. Finally, if you need advanced and reliable moderation features but also apps, contests, fan management and full metrics and insights for your page, AgoraPulse starts pricing at $14. There’s a free trial, so you can see for yourself if it fits your needs.

Ultimately, whether any of these tools appeal to you will depend on how active your fans are on your page.