Originally Posted June 2013. Updated November 2021.
– Feedback, though important to improving your business, can be difficult to receive.
– You should not remove all negative comments or reviews from your various profiles or posts.
– Knowing when to delete negativity and when to reply to it can help you manage your reputation.
Establishing a social media presence opens you up to receiving feedback from your customers, which is both a blessing and a curse. It gives you the opportunity to hear what your fans love the most about your company, but it also leaves you vulnerable to some not so nice comments. Many of the social media tools you manage offer you the ability to delete these negative comments, but that’s not always the best customer service strategy. In fact, many customers are turned off by spotless reviews or a complete absence of negativity, saying that it tips them off to censorship. Taking the good with the bad makes your brand seem more authentic, if you know how to handle it all properly.
So, since you can’t get rid of all the bad stuff, when should you respond publicly and politely? And when should you delete the comment and move on? Let’s review when it’s okay to delete comments on your social media platforms and when it’s best to leave them up.
Hit Delete When…
The Comment is Offensive to Others:
When a comment is racist or otherwise offensive to any of your audience members, be sure to delete it as soon as possible. Leaving it up, even if you don’t agree, can reflect poorly on your business. If the commenter is making a valid point, be sure to send him or her a private message addressing the concerns and explaining why the comment was deleted. If the comment is irrelevant, simply remove it.
The Comment is Highly Political:
Discussions of politics have their place, but (in most cases) that place is not your business’s Facebook or LinkedIn page. Neutral points regarding how new legislation or elections will affect your industry are acceptable, irate babbling about specific politicians or parties is not. Be sure to take these conversations out of the public eye so as not to alienate customers.
A proactive measure you can take is to steer clear of political statements in your content that may invite others to share their views, unless those political statements are directly relevant to your company, mission, values, products, or services. With the rise of consumer interest in social responsibility and your company’s politics, it may be difficult to balance political transparency with your brand and community. When you do speak out about political issues, choose the ones that are closest to your company’s heart and be prepared for dissenting opinions.
The Comment is Inappropriate:
Here’s a rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t want your children reading the comment, delete it. This includes both crude and suggestive language. For instance, a conversation took place between two users in the comments of a post on one of our client’s Facebook page regarding whether or not these individuals had spent intimate time in the bathroom. Though one party assured the other that this was not the place she was thinking of, this conversation is clearly inappropriate for public audiences and all comments involved were removed immediately. Not only are comments like these typically irrelevant to your content, they can hurt your universal likeability and accessibility with other visitors and content viewers.
The Comment is Spam:
If you have no idea what a user is trying to say and the comment does not relate to your business in the slightest, the comment is likely spam. Go ahead and delete these posts, especially if they include sketchy links. You wouldn’t want your staff or customers falling victim to a phishing scam on one of your posts, thus damaging your reputation.
Leave It Up When…
The Comment is Negative but Civil:
Many customers who choose to air their grievances on businesses’ social media pages do so in a very civilized manner. These customers deserve to have their voices heard. Not only should you leave these comments up, you should respond to them apologizing for the customers’ perceived bad experiences and ask how you can make it up to them, providing them with a way to continue the conversation offline. Remember: Your responses to negativity are not just for the original commenter. Everyone else who comes across your posts and reviews will be watching carefully to see how you handle feedback and take care of disgruntled customers.
The Comment Mentions a Competitor:
You may be tempted to remove comments such as, “The chowder is so much better at XYC Restaurant,” but resist the urge. Instead, invite that commenter to stop in and try another dish. Not only does this show that you’re not a poor sport, it gives your fans a chance to come in and defend you. You’d be surprised at the amount of support your followers will provide in situations like this. Plus, it gives you a chance to playfully interact with other local businesses to reach more customers. Who knows? You may spark a chowder cookoff that becomes a local favorite event every year! See these comments as opportunities instead of setbacks.
Remember it is better to have conversation on tools you have more control over than for an individual to start complaining on platforms you do not control, such as Yelp.
In the end, it is your choice what comments you’d like to be associated with your business on social media. However, following these basic rules will allow you to weed out the comments that should absolutely be removed from those that spark conversation and give you the chance to win over potentially lost customers.
Keep Your Community Happy & Handle Feedback Confidently
We understand that it feels like a tightrope walk to post on social media, invite the community to engage, and present only your best to onlookers. Thankfully, we’ve engaged expert reputation managers and feedback fanatics to help guide your growth online. Check out these on-demand training sessions for some independent study in reputation management, or work directly with a Marketing Mentor to work through your concerns one-on-one with the pros.