Those of you who know me know that I am a strong believer in never deleting negative comments posted to your social media channels by angry, upset or disappointed fans and customers. There are several reasons for this:
- It adds insult to injury, provoking further escalation of the negative situation
- It goes against the social media “rules” and mindset
- Negative comments should be seen as an opportunity to connect you even closer to your fans, customers and market
However, there are absolutely exceptions to this rule.
When is it acceptable to delete negative comments?
Although I’m a believer and advocate for not deleting negative criticism, there are certain situations where negative comments should be – rather, they need to be – deleted.
These situations include, but are not limited to:
- Comments that include profanity
- Comments that are of a threatening nature
- Comments that are discriminatory, racist, obscene or otherwise offensive to the members of your team, staff, customers or fans
Comments of this nature are unacceptable, and therefore are best removed from your channels. However, there is a proper way to go about deleting these comments so as not to put any heat on your own company or organization.
The acceptable way to delete unacceptable comments
Step 1: First, and ideally before these types of comments are made, your social media channels should have a policy clearly stating the types of comments your company or organization will accept and those that are deemed unacceptable. These guidelines should be very clear and direct, and should be displayed promptly within the channels for which they apply.
Note: A great place to clearly state these guidelines are within the About section of your social media channels.
Step 2: In additional to clearly stating the guidelines of what types of comments your brand or organization will and will not accept, you should also clearly state the consequences for not meeting these guidelines.
“… Such comments will be deleted and repeat offenders will leave us no choice but to block them from our fan page.”
Step 3: Last but not least, after deleting an unacceptable comment you may choose to write a private message to the offending individual, referring them to your guidelines and policy and alerting them that their message has in fact been deleting. This is a positive approach to take that may:
- Bring awareness to the offending individual. It is possible that they were unaware of your guidelines and policy and may choose to come back and voice their opinion in an acceptable manor.
- Protect you from being further attacked by this individual who may begin to spread rumors that your brand deletes negative comments without justification.
There is a difference between negative and unacceptable comments
Although these types of offensive comments are unacceptable and therefore best deleted, you need to be very clear in where the line is drawn between negative and unacceptable – not just for your fans and customers, but for your organization and employees as well.
Nobody likes to receive negative criticism, especially when it is posted publicly for the world to see, but, as I’ve said and will continue to say, social media gives every individual a voice and we, as brands, need to permit them their voice and take appropriate measures to strengthen and build the relationship we share with our fans and customers. This means that comments you disagree with, or perhaps find embarrassing for your company or organization, but that do not fall into the unacceptable category are best not deleted – but rather responded to.
Negative comments should be seen as an opportunity for your company rather than a threat, and I invite you to read more about how to turn a negative criticism into a positive opportunity for your brand here.
What to take away
Negative comments or criticism should not be deleted from your social media channels, while unacceptable comments and remarks need to be – and it is very important that you give your fans and customers a clear definition of what unacceptable means to your organization, as well as the consequences for not following these guidelines that you prominently lay out.
What about you?
Have you experienced either negative criticism or unacceptable comments made to your social media channels, and if so, how did you handle the situation and what did you learn from it? Share your experiences and lessons with me below!