Offbeat Bride’s Facebook page has blasted into the stratosphere lately, with 400 new Facebook followers every single day. We’ve doubled our followers twice in the last year.
Ok, so this is great, right? So many people finding Offbeat Bride and being introduce to the awesomeness, right? So many new readers! So many new eyeballs! Well, yes and no.
These new followers in many cases know absolutely nothing about us, other than our name. Because they’re coming in via Page Recommendations on Facebook, in many cases these people have literally never been to the website. Not even once. They don’t have any idea about the context of our seven years of history, no clue about our brand or mission, and in some cases aren’t even sure why they’re following the site. (Yes, some of them are engaged, but tons of them are vendors doing market research. Others are just looking for some entertainment and trainwreck material.) They CERTAINLY have never read our commenting policy.
When it comes to moderation, here’s our division of labor:
- Blog comments are moderated by the site editors, mostly Megan and Catherine.
- Offbeat Bride Tribe posts and comments are moderated by the community’s team of volunteer members, headed up by Kirsten, the Community Manager.
- Facebook page comments are moderated by me.
Yep, me. At this point, with a fourth of our followers being brand new, there’s a LOT of acculturating that’s happening via the links we post on Facebook. Every morning, followers get links to our newest posts. And every afternoon, they get a guided tour of some of the most powerful posts from our archives — powerfully useful, powerfully philosophical, representative of our powerfully diverse readership, etc. My goal with these powerful posts is to show new followers, “See this? THIS is what Offbeat Bride and the Offbeat Empire are about. Welcome!”
Usually, the response is lovely! Not infrequently, it’s not so lovely.
Most of the time, fucked up comments get a quick delete and block. Honestly, it’s just not even worth interacting with certain kinds of Facebook followers. This is especially true when it comes to “Um, NO” comments. If a Facebook comment starts, “Um, no,” it pretty much never goes anywhere good. Snide and dismissive just isn’t how we do things, and few of our Facebook followers are interested in our long-established comment policies.
Likewise, I give a quick ban to vendors who step in to chastise nontraditional brides. My favorite was a (male) photographer who rudely dismissed a post using the logic, “It’s always the bride who plans these things, so…” DOUBLE FAIL! Unfortunately, I don’t have enough hours in the day to spend all my time on Facebook, educating rude photographers about their gender assumptions and online civility. When it comes to the “Um, no” comments and the “Let me teach you a thing or two about how weddings work, stupid Offbeat Brides” comments, I treat it as a quick litmus test that this person is not a great fit for the community.
I don’t think we gained Vanessa as a reader, which is fine. (I’ve known since the beginning that Offbeat Bride simply isn’t going to be a fit for everyone — and as a niche site, there’s no reason it should aim to be.) My hope, however, is that hundreds of new Facebook followers got to see a great example how we treat each other in this community when we’re at our best. We’re casual and honest, but also tolerant and accommodating. We allow each other to make our own decisions, and respect that we may not always agree.
For those of you who know the Empire’s values and comment policies and culture, if you see weirdness happening in the comments on our Facebook pages, I encourage you to step in and do some acculturating yourself. Link the comment policy, share your perspective. Don’t feed the trolls, but these 400 new daily followers could use some loving hands to hold, and it’s up to each of us to make them feel welcome.
PS: Sydney, I owe you a cake.