Moderating fan posts on an artist or celebrity Facebook page sometimes feels like being in a downtown bus station; it can be sleazy and rank with scammers and crazy people. But you've got to be there to get somewhere desirable.
Most successful artists and celebrities don't have the time to maintain their own social presence, so they get help doing it. Moderating a page is considered elementary gruntwork, and is usually given to the most junior of employees at record labels, marketing and management firms. While keeping page content current is a priority most everyone gets, combing over the posts & replies that followers make sometimes isn't. And this is potentially a very big mistake - not only for the rich engagement that's missed, but also because you need to protect both the artist/celeb AND their followers from the bad guys.
The rawest, most direct form of engagement with fans is via posts and replies on social media. Every one of these interactions is an opportunity to build loyalty, provide customer service, and do market research. That's why moderating social pages with a keen eye for opportunity is so important. You must be diligent to the point of obsession about reviewing everything that is posted by followers, and then know what to act on.
To illustrate the point, I thought I'd share some of the things I've come across while managing Facebook pages for artists and celebrities. Discretion is an important aspect of this job, so I have not provided actual artist names, but these examples have come up with almost all of them at one time or another. Here are some of my Hair Raising Tales Of Celebrity Facebook Moderation:
1) Stalkers: Social media can be a very effective "early warning system" for identifying celebrity stalkers. Facebook stalkers usually start with a post about some imagined connection to the celebrity or artist, like "We haven't met yet but I know we're soulmates." Their posts plead for a response (which, as a policy, we never provide.) Many of these interactions fizzle out, but a rare few escalate and become almost manic. They may post their intention to confront the celebrity face to face. I usually do not ban these people from the celebrity's page, because it is easier to keep track of them if I don't. Often they'll have a photo of themselves, their location and travel plans on their Facebook profile. It's important to have good instincts about when to alert management about a possible threat, and to back it up with information. I've provided copies of threatening Facebook post content which was ultimately used as evidence to obtain an Order of Protection against a stalker. Most celebrities have personal security and private investigation resources who can perform threat assessment on these individuals, and if the celebrity makes personal appearances, security will watch out for these people.
2) Heal Me/Fund Me: People bare their souls to celebrities on Facebook. They post details of personal woes, diseases, divorces, substance abuse, arrests, bankruptcy - expecting the celebrity to help them, save them. As a moderator, I read them all. New posts come in every day; some are obvious scams which I delete from the page so none of the celebrity's followers are suckered in. But the majority are posts by real people who are so desperate they think a cry for help to a celebrity is a possible solution. I don't typically delete these posts from the page, but they almost never get a response - it's just impossible given the volume, and what people are asking for. Occasionally there will be a request related to a cause the celebrity is passionate about, and in these cases I review all the details thoroughly and then pass the message on to management, who may or may not decide to pass it on to the celebrity. It's a constant challenge to sort through this stuff every day and not get emotionally effected by it - you need to cultivate a healthy detachment.
3) Flame Wars: Sometimes people's opinions will differ on even the most seemingly benign subjects, and this can escalate into flame wars - insults, name calling, totally counterproductive flurries of activity. If it gets out of control, the negativity can turn off other followers and reflect negatively back on the celebrity. SoI constantly look out for these flash fires, and contain them as quickly as possible. I create a virtual fireline, deleting offensive posts to prevent spreading and future damage. Posting gentle reminders along the lines of "c'mon guys, remember, we're all fans here" can also work. Keeping a close eye on the page every day helps a moderator understand which followers make consistent, positive contributions to the community, and who the troublemakers are. This bigger picture view provides context for any punitive action that may need to be taken.
I'm shocked at how often the Bible and the Constitution are used to rationalize the most hateful words and thoughts on Facebook.
4) Racists & Homophobes: Want to bring the trolls out in force? Post a message of support for President Obama, marriage equality or gun control on Facebook. These subjects are all powerful troll bait. Reasonable expressions of differing opinions are to be expected, even encouraged. But when people try to create a hostile environment on the page, those aren't the kind of followers most celebrities need. I'm shocked at how often the Bible and the Constitution are used to rationalize the most hateful words and thoughts on Facebook. People who have publicly available profiles, with rich personal details on their pages, talk about lynching or stoning people. Looking for support from Facebook on this is an utter waste of time. Firstly, you can't actually talk to a real person at Facebook, you can only report questionable content. I'm not sure who reviews this content, but quite often they decide not to remove hateful speech or suspend accounts, so it's up to the page moderator to set the standard. And the most effective way to do that is by actively deleting posts that cross the line and where necessary, banning followers.
5) Political Operatives: I witnessed an organized effort by a group or groups with a political agenda to pollute a celebrity's FB page with invective. The celeb has publicly supported what some believe to be liberal leaning causes on many occasions. One day out of nowhere, hundreds of different people made offensive political posts on this celebrity's Facebook page, like an orchestrated assault. Interestingly, the posts all contained similar wording, and In some cases they linked out to one of several conservative leaning web sites, all of which contained a story critical of said celebrity. All the stories also had identical or nearly identical wording, as though they were penned by the same author, despite being on different websites. There was no particular statement or action by the celebrity that preceded this attack, someone or something just decided to put a target on their back that day. I spent 24 hours sitting in front of a laptop, deleting posts and banning these people until suddenly the assault stopped - a very strange day indeed.
6) Click Bait, Porn and Work from Home Spam: The larger the number of followers a celebrity has, the more spam their page seems to attract. A post goes up about a TV appearance, and within minutes bogus Facebook accounts reply with posts that link out to a petrie dish of scam content. It's fairly easy to catch the spam on new posts, but some of these scammers go back down the page and post links in content that is weeks or months old. So it's important to go back and look at the most recent replies to older Facebook posts. I regularly catch and delete posts for Work From Home Scams, Porn, and all sorts of other click bait in older content posts. It's like termites eating away at the foundation.
In my opinion, Facebook does not do an adequate job on scam accounts and relies too much on the user community to do the policing.
7) Impersonators: This is a fairly regular occurrence; a scammer creates an account with a name identical or similar to a celebrity, and puts photos of the celebrity on their (fake) profile page. Then they go into posts and Direct Message fans who haven't restricted who can DM them, pose as the celebrity, and start to work a scam. Gullible fans believe they're talking to the actual celebrity, and the Direct Messages continue until, inevitably, the scammer asks the fan for money. The reasons they give can be very creative and some fans want so hard to believe that the relationship is real. Luckily, less gullible fans will often post messages on the page to the moderators alerting them to the fake pages, and when this happens I will often post a notice alerting everyone to the scam. We also encourage fans to report the scammer to Facebook, and usually the accounts are suspended. But it's like weeds, it's not to long before they pop up. The verification checkmark Facebook provides for confirmed celebrity pages helps a bit, but they need to create more awareness about these security issues. In my opinion, Facebook does not do an adequate job on scam accounts and relies too much on the user community to do the policing.
8) It's All About Me-ers: Building a Facebook page that has millions of followers isn't trivial; most of the artists and celebrities with those kinds of numbers have been extremely successful and their names are household words. Individuals and companies often try to promote themselves or their products on these celebrity Facebook pages, by making posts direct to the page, or by replying to page posts with links to their own pages or websites. They'll post clips of their band playing, iTunes Store links to their new album, GoFundMe campaigns for their restaurant, food truck, trip to India. I call them the "All About Me-Ers" - they're usually not posting content that's relevant to the community, it's just about piggyback marketing, promoting themselves. I usually delete these posts, but I don't ban them the first time as they may be genuine fans of the celebrity or artist. But if I see someone posting about themselves multiple times, I'll usually ban them.
Hopefully these examples have been helpful and will encourage some of you to take a closer look at the engagement on the pages you manage. 95% of what followers post will be supportive - but being diligent about the 5% that isn't will protect both the artist AND fans that love you or your artist celebrity.
Thanks for reading!