Confessions Of a Former Social Commerce Gatekeeper

After I write this, I hope the Social Marketing gods don’t rate me a 0.0 when it’s time for me to ascend to that big customer forum up in the sky.

A couple years ago, I worked in eCommerce for, and part of my job was editing, approving and denying product reviews submitted by customers. It was a laborious, boring job that was only entertaining when some sociopath went on a 1,200-word a rant somehow connecting surge protectors and the Nazi Party. But along the way, I picked up some useful social commerce nuggets for both consumers and the companies making user-generated content possible. And I thought I’d share. Here are a few of those lessons:

For companies:

· Look out for the rogue business effect: In my time as a social commerce editor, I found more phony reviews submitted by companies we worked with than by bored end users. And these posters usually weren’t very good at passing off bogus product reviews as the legit thing. The use of corporate buzzwords was usually a good giveaway.

· Offer realistic expectations for content publication: Are your ratings and reviews published and instantaneously when the user clicks “OK,” or do they need to be approved and pushed by an editor at his or her leisure. Be sure to manage this expectation up front, otherwise you’ll just create awkward confusion when you had positive intentions for creating an open dialogue.

For consumers:

· Don’t make it petty: If you make a negative post more focused on the checkout person’s poor-fitting stretch pants than the faulty product you purchased, editors may assume your motives for posting may be above and beyond simply reviewing a product or service. They may assume it was an ex-girlfriend, a former boss or a Dallas Cowboys fan.

· Be specific on specifics: If you’re mentioning a specific price point, product or service detail, give as much detail as possible. Social commerce editors double as fact checkers, and they’ll be wary of publishing info that might be erroneous, especially if it makes their business look bad. For example, if you’re listing the price of an autographed “High School Musical” lunchbox, be sure to mention when and where you got it – and if you took advantage of any special savings or discounts.

· Be PG-13. This sounds like a no-brainer, but even if you place one ripe-to-be-edited F-bomb in the beginning of a well reasoned critique, the entire thing will likely be deleted rather than edited and published. That’s because editors are scared that even if they go over a review three times, they still don’t trust there’s not another hidden curse in there somewhere. And at the end of the day – it’s their butts (and paychecks) on the line.

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