For brands that dally in social media spaces—Facebook in particular—transparency and authenticity are the key to gaining popularity and earning “likes.” So it’s a difficult decision whether to delete a particular post.
Let’s face it. Not everyone loves your brand. Some see your Facebook page as a public forum to deride you. You have two options: Engage the person or ignore him. Both have their potential pitfalls, and it’s the job of a social media manager to weigh those possible outcomes and choose the best course of action.
Only in special cases and last-resort scenarios do you want to delete a comment. If you delete them without proper cause, you risk the same fate ChapStick suffered last year
. In short, it’s not pretty.
Here are a few guidelines on when we deem it necessary to delete posts on brand pages:
If the post is depicting some illegal action.
Any time someone posts a photo of an illegal activity on your page, you should definitely delete it. For instance, a group called Label It Yourself
likes to go to grocery stores and put its own warning labels on packaging. This is actually illegal, so brands shouldn’t worry about deleting these posts from their page.
If a comment uses words you wouldn’t want a child to say.
You can set up your filter through Facebook’s settings to weed out any bad words, but there are still clever alternative ways to spell curse words—such as substituting the letter S with $, and substituting O with a zero. Knuckleheads will find ways to swear on your page that you didn’t think of. In these cases, it’s OK to delete.
If a post is completely off topic.
Let’s say you’re a cookie brand and someone posts on your page about her undying disgust for members of a particular political party. Do you keep it or delete it? I generally lean toward deleting posts that are completely off topic and out of place on the page. I have no problem explaining that away.
If a post attacks or is aimed at insulting another user.
Unless you’re managing the Facebook page for “The Jerry Springer Show
,” there’s probably no reason to provide an outlet for people to disparage one another. Kindly ask them to take their vitriol elsewhere and delete the comment.
If someone is hawking their wares on your page.
It’s amazing how many people see your page as the ideal place to inform people about their completely unrelated product or website. It can get tricky when it’s a blogger coming to your page who wants to use your product page as a way to get page views for his or her article or story. These we have to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
If a claim against your product is blatantly false, it’s actually better to address that in the comments and leave that up for everyone to see. More often than not we see that when people come to your page to gang up with negativity, your fans will come to your rescue and quell the argument on your behalf—or at least post enough positive comments to bury the negative.
How people can and cannot talk in your public forum should be outlined in your community guidelines in as vague or specific language as you feel comfortable using. As long as you have those guidelines to point to as the reason you deleted a particular comment, you should have no issues. It’s only when you start deleting negative comments from your page with no basis that you run into trouble.
This story originally ran on PR Daily in June 2012.