From superfan to super mod: Why moderation matters

Written by Aidan Wilson

Fan communities flourish when fans come together. But how do you keep the energy in a community, and how do you manage things going wrong? That's where moderators come in. In a Levellr community, we love to harness the energy and excitement of the most engaged fans to build a healthy and welcoming community.

Levellr works with clients from Fall Out Boy to Starbucks to build communities of fans on messaging apps including Discord and Telegram. Moderation is a key part of that process. We carefully and rigorously screen potential moderators, making sure that as well as their insider's knowledge of the fandom they have the technical skills required for the role. We then train and empower those superfans to support the artist or brand in driving engagement, retention and growth - without straining precious time and budget.

You've probably heard of online moderators who police spam and bad behaviour. But a Levellr moderator does so much more.

Why are mods so important?

At Levellr, we see communities struggle for one of two reasons.

Firstly, a community will fade if not enough fans join and the conversation peters out. That's why Levellr doesn't just set up a community and leave everyone to get on with it; we also provide ongoing support to nurture the space with our community management assistance. Moderators start and maintain the conversation so engagement stays healthy.

When the community is happy and active, members spread the word, persuading more and more fans to sign up and join the conversation.

Secondly, once fans have joined, the community needs to be a safe and welcoming space. Without engaged and knowledgeable moderators working for a community, it can quickly turn into an unhappy place and users will be less inclined to spend time there. That's why we train moderators to be both approachable and responsible, building an atmosphere of trust that's crucial for retention.

What roles do mods play in the community?

Mods keep things running smoothly and happily. Fan moderators have an important safety role, heading off inappropriate content, unsafe links, and bullying or inappropriate behaviour. They're trained and equipped to tackle spam, harassment and other issues which could distract and disillusion fans.

But mods don’t just wield the ban hammer.

As fans themselves, they're familiar with the dynamics and personalities of the community. They're highly visible as conversations flow, deterring potential rule breakers but more importantly remaining approachable and relatable to the community. Fan mods know their fellow members as individuals, helping everybody feeling included and providing a friendly point of contact for discussing concerns.

Fans smile and cheer at a concert.
Mods provide a friendly face to fellow fans. (Photo by Nicholas Green/Unsplash)

And if things get tense, fan mods can intervene in a more personal, supportive and non-intrusive way than external moderators.

Fan mods can spot friction quickly, steer conversation, resolve conflicts informally, and if necessary de-escalate debate by gently reminding users to remain civil and follow the rules.

On top of that role, they also drive engagement, initiating and leading ad hoc events such as listening parties and games. This ensures long-term engagement even in periods outside official campaigns and activations.

Ultimately, fan mods care about the members and purpose of the community.

How does Levellr work with mods?

Launching a community with mods already in place is vital to the ongoing success of the space. If the conversation descends into negativity from a few bad actors, you risk the long-term health of the community, so it’s crucial to have a team actively managing any challenges from day one.

Levellr's community specialists help artists, brands and their teams find the most engaged fans, and ask those fans if they'd like to help out and give back to the community. As well as enjoying the opportunity to become a trusted team member, the fan enjoys special access and exclusives from community owners.

We’ll help you build your moderation team before launch or evolve your team in existing communities, using our toolset to make it easy for fans to apply to become mods. It's an important job, so we've developed a thorough multi-step vetting process. Levellr's community team all have experience as Discord moderators, and we screen fans with carefully selected initial questions before promising candidates are handpicked and interviewed.

Levellr trains successful mods with an onboarding session so they're fully aware of our guidelines, and empowers them with tools for dealing with rule-breaking. Recognising that not every incident requires a heavy-handed approach, mods can give users a "timeout" for a specified time, "kick" users temporarily from the server, or "ban" them permanently. All these responses and incidents are logged with Levellr on a closed server where mods can check in away from the community. Incident reports and monthly data on mod activity are also made available to the community owner.

Recruitment is an ongoing process. So new mods are always in the pipeline to replace previous mods or to scale up the team as the community grows.

A growing community feeds on the energy of engaged and excited members who share a love of the artist or brand. With their insight into the fandom and their dedication to the group's shared purpose, trained and empowered superfan mods are perfectly placed to nurture and energise a thriving community.

Your superfans are waiting. Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand.

(Thanks to our moderation team, with content support from Shaun Burton, for helping us create this article!)

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