November 29, 2018

Image Moderation: A Winning Tool for Competitive Brands

Image moderator working on his laptop

It can be risky to employ user-generated content (UGC), but it is likewise an effective way of gauging audience engagement better. UGC is like the digital and modernized version of word-of-mouth, and that’s what makes it among customers’ most trusted basis for scrutinizing brands and assessing the services they want to avail.

There are different types of moderation for each type of content submitted by users in a brand’s online community; and image moderation is one. Images leave a strong impact on end-users because it has the capability to provide solid samples and proofs of how certain products and services work. The emotional impact that images can bring to customers is the reason behind why it is such an effective tool for brand advertising.

A good logo can represent a brand aptly while a smartly designed promotional banner can prompt customers to make a purchase, subscribe to a brand’s newsletter, inquire about a particular service, or join product-related contests and activities organized by the brand.

Brands also use graphics to assert a specific message. There are instances where words are not enough to convey an idea or incite a reaction from end-users. As such, images can capture attention and help businesses be more creative with how they reach out to their audience.

Brands that show high quality images of its products tend to entice customers more compared to those who can only provide product images with poor quality. It can likewise testify if products are effective or inefficient. Customers can use their smartphones and share their experiences with a certain product through snapping photos while they use it.

UGC in the form of images also has its down sides. A business’ online branding can be tainted once it is associated with explicit and unwholesome images. An example would be when a brand’s logo is edited in a way that promotes negative messages that contradict the brand’s core objectives.

There are also those who share highly graphic images depicting violence and other disturbing themes on a business’ social media page or account. In turn, it will diminish trust and raise doubts on the part of a brand’s customers. These are the probable risks that make moderating images a must.

What is image moderation and how can it help protect a business’ online reputation and branding?

Four image moderator working on a table

Believe it or not, moderation services were such an expensive necessity back in the days. Consistent modification is what led to the impressive array of user-generated content moderation we have today. Particularly, moderating images has become so modern and adaptable to counter more sinister ways that scammers and hackers use to try and breach security of forums, online chats, and social media pages.

Brands employ photo moderation to engage the right audience and minimize the instances of internet users trying to disrupt their reputation and the safety of their online community

Checking and monitoring pictures online primarily involves removing offensive and explicit images to keep explicit content from being included in a brand’s social media and online community feed. Different types and sizes of images can be moderated, depending on what the brand’s online community is all about.

To help ensure that the quality of the online community as well as the integrity of the brand is maintained, moderation guidelines can be tailored according to what the business’ objectives are.

CREATING MODERATION GUIDELINES

Images are simpler, easier for the human brain to process and influence people both cognitively and emotionally. This is also the reason why moderating user-posted photos should be executed in a quick yet seamless manner.

Key factors to consider when generating photo moderation guidelines are:

    • Format— Set image formats and sizes that community members will follow. Specify whether images in .GIF format are allowed or only still images are permissible. Enumerate the maximum size limit for the images submitted by the users. This is especially crucial for forums because users are usually required to upload avatars that go with their accounts. Following image formats and sizes make website pages load more quickly, thereby enhancing customer experience and engagement.
    • Context— Next to the format and the size, is the details depicted in the pictures shared by the community members. A brand’s moderators should see to it that the themes and features being portrayed in the photos are aligned with what the brand aims to represent. Not only that, it is important to focus on checking the accuracy of the facts being depicted in the images submitted. Checking for the image’s accuracy by going through the metadata, caption, and even the image’s source contributes to securing the business’ credibility. Prioritizing the context also means ensuring explicit and offensive content is filtered. Spam and unwanted ads are prevented more effectively as well if there are clear and concise guidelines for how user-generated images are reviewed.
    • Originality— Images, whether those created through illustrations, photography, photo editing or photo manipulation, are subject to intellectual property rights. While the topic of recognizing and upholding copyright may be quite a sensitive issue to delve on, protecting the intellectual property rights of community members will reflect positively on a brand’s reputation. For example, if a business holds a photography or art contest, participants should be encouraged to use original concepts and refrain from recycling or blatantly copying other people’s works.

    Moderating images can either be automated or manually done. Basically, the main difference between the two is the resources used to implement the guidelines given to regulate images on the brand’s website or community.

    Manual moderation employs humans to regulate user-submitted photos while automated moderation makes use of a software or program to check and review pictures.

    Three image moderator discussing moderation guidelines

    Manual Image Moderation

    Since manual image moderation relies on human moderators, it requires keener attention to detail. Although human error may be inevitable with this type of image moderation, monitoring graphic violence, nudity, and other obscene depictions is performed with conscious as well as a higher level of accuracy, judgment and decision-making.

    The moderation process can also be customized or made more flexible especially if there are exemptions to the guidelines being followed. Ideally, manual moderation works best for small businesses with fewer amounts of images being regulated on a daily basis.

    As human moderation takes more time, it would not be ideal to employ manual moderation if there is a huge bulk of photos that needs screening.

    Automated Photo Moderation

    Contrary to manual moderation, automated image moderation is backed by an API designed specifically to help make the monitoring process faster and more flexible. The API can be integrated either in the website or in an app.

    It can be programmed to automatically detect and delete certain content or depictions in the images posted. Automated moderation of photos can be enhanced instantly and even prevent instances of spamming because of how quickly it can detect duplicate content.

    Software intended for photo moderation is best used for reviewing massive amounts of image posts and submissions. However, because automated moderation does not incorporate conscious monitoring of images, there may be times where it deletes or reports images that are technically not violating the set guidelines, but may be portraying themes that are identical to what the API has been programmed to detect.

    Over the years moderating photos has been continuously developed and modified to suit changing market demands. At present, it can now be done manually or through the aid of software designed specifically for moderating content.

    When choosing between manual or automated moderation, it is best to use a combination of both especially if a brand caters to huge volumes of user-generated images on a daily basis. Both human and AI-powered moderation each have advantages that can be combined to make the scanning and checking process faster and more efficient.

    AI moderation is a great solution to moderating images posted by community members, site visitors or social media followers in bulk. Live moderation, on the other hand, detects more subtle details on images that computers cannot easily detect.

    WHEN IS PHOTO MODERATION A NECESSITY FOR BUSINESSES?

    Image moderator shaking hands with the business owner

    Since moderation comes in different forms—content, image, and video—not all websites or online communities may require the assistance of image moderation. It also depends upon the type of content that the brand wants to focus on.

    Usually, image moderation becomes a necessity when one or more of the scenarios listed below apply to a brand’s online community:

    • The brand’s services also targets minors and thus needs to make its website and social media channels child-friendly
    • Members of the business’ website or online community are consistently sending massive amounts of images on a daily basis
    • Aside from written content, the brand also relies heavily on pictures to gauge audience engagement and interaction
    • Contests and online activities involving pictures are held for the target audience
    • End-users are frequently sending reports of posting violations specifically in the form of images
    • The website is created to help provide instructions or guides on topics related to the services being offered, and thus requires the addition of visually clear and precise examples or illustrations
    • The business is a reputable name in the industry and needs to protect its status from being tainted by offensive and/or scandalous content

    Image moderation can be a great contributor to boost online branding

    Employing image moderation, whether through in-house or outsourced moderators ensures that the images being submitted by the end-users, or those being associated to the brand remain highly relevant to what the business aims to represent.

    Images can gauge an audience’s attention in a snap, and that makes an efficient moderation process a way to pique end-user curiosity, protect the brand and its target audience, and ultimately drive higher traffic to the business’ websites and social media channels.

    At the end of the day, establishing clear website rules and moderation criteria that suit a brand’s demands are the key ingredients to an efficient and well-oiled picture moderation process

    Online brand protection is no joke—a disorganized photo moderation approach may leave a brand’s social media followers to unfollow or report the page for being associated with highly upsetting imagery. Forums and websites also get a bad reputation, diminishing the amount of traffic and the instance of having new visitors register as members.

    If a website, forum or social media page has its own unique rules that end-users are made to strictly abide by, using a single type of moderation to enforce this would not be ideal. Live moderation will not be able to handle user-generated content in bulk once exhaustion and stress begin to kick in. Using auto moderation may boost performance speed but the subjective area of user posts may not be accurately judged.

    What user behavior, opinion or idea, as exhibited by the images a brand’s audience posts, is acceptable and what is not? It is necessary to define what types of graphic content need to be checked to ensure that image moderation done through computer software and humans work systematically.

    Certain risks can be gauged more aptly, while specific back-up procedures for moderating user-generated content and images can be planned in a way that it involves active participation of a business’ audience.

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