Oklahoma State University is no stranger to issues which generate an enormous amount of conversation. They take place in homes across the US, in dorm rooms, and of course on their Facebook page.
On any average day the conversations are benign. Status updates about news around campus, students posting requests for information, the occasional spam, and the ubiquitous game day posts of “Go Pokes” and “ORANGE!!!” with the equally loud response, “POWER!!!.
Then there are days like the last few weeks. The status updates and the postings on their Facebook page come at a breakneck pace and are oftentimes hard to keep up with. The online conversations (debate) also takes on a new tone which often times moves its way toward the gutter. Managing the breakneck pace and what to do with those posts are a topic for another day. Today we are talking about how to curb trash talk and worse.
Oklahoma State University follows two simple procedures to curb trash talk and to keep the conversation positive and beneficial for those involved or might visit their Facebook page.
First, they are present. They are constantly monitoring, listening and responding to the people who post on the Facebook page, especially in times of high activity. Their presence isn’t exclusive to only crisis. During the snow and ice storm of 2010 they managed their Facebook page in real-time from the offices, keeping fans updated of a variety of related topics. Once everybody went home to batten down for the snowmageddon, they monitored from there. When power went out they took to their phones.
Second, when conversations turn for the worst they simply ask and remind people to take the high road. This is often times the most effective but overlooked option for dealing with upset individuals or persons who have simply taken a more guttural approach to expressing their emotions and opinions. Yesterday, after win over the University of Oklahoma and then the BCS announcement, comments on their Facebook page did just this. The main issue was an over presence of swear words being used to describe any number of different elements. The response was simple – post a message requesting people be mindful of their language (image above). With this one simple action the comments on the Facebook page took a more upbeat tone and many posted comments thanking the University for the gentle reminder. The use of swear words came to an almost screeching halt as people abided by the reminder. My favorite is the person who used the term “poo poo” – well played my friend.
Like a playground without a teacher present, an unmoderated Facebook page can quickly take a turn to chaos. A reminder to be civil is simply the teacher’s whistle reminding all participants that you are present, monitoring and expect only the best of what they have to share.
Nothing earthshattering above, just a reminder the next time all heck breaks loose on your facebook page. Don’t get defensive, don’t challenge, simply ask for some civility. You may be surprised at what you get.