Transparency is one of the hallmarks of Facebook and social media in general. This is why some social media experts advise companies to NEVER hide or delete negative Facebook comments. As a social media admin, I disagree.
There’s No Such Thing as the United States of Facebook.
There is no First Amendment protecting a user’s right to say anything they like on a Facebook Business Page. The closest thing businesses have to a Bill of Rights is their Page Rules outlining what sort of user comments will or won’t fly. If users ignore your rules, you have a right to hide their remarks. With that in mind, here are four types of comments that can be limited under Page Rules:
False or Coercive
Some fans make repeated false or negative Facebook comments to badger companies into giving them free products. These people may also pose as prominent bloggers or reviewers who threaten companies with bad reviews if the merchandise isn’t sent. When dealing with this type of user, a little detective work can go a long way. I once researched a self-proclaimed “popular” YouTube reviewer and discovered she had fewer than 50 subscribers. A quick internet check on an “influential” blogger revealed that she was using 10 aliases in four different states. When your Page receives negative comments from this type of user, don’t hide or delete—ban and report.
Promoted Post Hitchhikers
Just as some pesky critters attach themselves to larger animals, some users post their own ads in the comment sections of trending or promoted Facebook posts. These social media hitchhikers erode your post’s credibility and distract from the message you’re paying to promote. Hide away!
Like Promoted Post Hitchhikers, comments that take user conversations off-topic distract from your post’s primary message. Whether the user makes a seemingly harmless joke or starts a side conversation, it’s my experience that positive post engagement quickly drops and fails to recover until the Facebook comment is deleted.
I occasionally see comments that are so nasty I can’t believe they were posted by an actual consumer. A quick name search will sometimes confirm my initial suspicion—the comment was made by someone at a competing business. Considering what business owners stand to lose if their smear tactics are discovered by consumers and/or reported to Facebook, I can’t imagine anyone still doing this. It literally requires just a few minutes for Page Owners or their admins to determine what’s happening and take appropriate steps.
Getting the Message
There is some good news for businesses that use Facebook as a customer service portal. The social media platform now provides a Message feature that allows companies to reply privately to any user who makes a comment on its posts. While many customer complaints are legitimate, I believe companies need this option to protect themselves from users who don’t play by the Rules.