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Graffiti Bridge

(With apologies to the used-to-be and now-is-again artist Prince)

I was talking to a potential client last week, and was getting pushed back because their current social media efforts aren’t doing much for them. In fact, they are pretty negative. They have added comments to articles and whitepapers on their website, and to be generous the comments are horrible.

Not just horrible as in mean to the brand, but a snakepit of trolldom, angry ad hominem and content-free commentary.

“See!” they tell me. “We put the comment system up, and look what happened!”

Here is where I mentally bang my head against the conference table.

“Look,” I explain. “What’s the difference between an alley in Beverly Hills and an alley in Compton?”

Blank look.

“No tagging on the buildings in BH. Why? because it’s obvious that the people in change care. When graffiti goes up, it’s gone the next day. The homeowners actually use the alleys and the police actually patrol them.

In Compton? Not so much. Which is why taggers are free to do their worst.

When you put up a comments system and walk away, you’re creating Compton.”

“So how do I create Beverly Hills?”

“Participate!” Participate in your own discussion forums. Make every author who writes something agree to go to the forums and engage at least twice a day. Make it part of their job.”

Because if you’re setting up forums and walking away, you’re just creating unmonitored back alleys where people are going to feel free to express their worst attributes.

Don’t do that.

For some tips on how, see this post.