When Is It Okay to Hit Delete?

One of the most common struggles businesses face when they start getting serious about social media is knowing when to delete comments that appear on their pages. As you might guess, deleting anything that even hints at negativity can turn into a serious disaster, really fast. No one likes to be silenced, especially when they have a valid concern.

What is acceptable on a page is (and should be) pretty vast. Your customers should be allowed to ask you questions, even tough questions (like, “Why did you raise your prices this year, even though I get the same product?”). Your customers should be able to tell you when some aspect of your business isn’t working. They should be able to say, “I’m angry that this is happening and I want you to fix it.” Your customers should be allowed to tell you when they think you are wrong.

All of that can boil down to a lot of negativity, but you can’t let it swamp you. Have a plan in place to deal with everything from customer service complaints to common questions to angry customers just looking to get their voice heard. Additionally, set up some criteria that spells out when it is okay to delete a post, and stick to it, even when it’s hard. It will get rid of any gray area, and it gives your social media managers the power to more quickly and efficiently handle tough situations.

What can that criteria look like?

1. If someone is using foul language on your page. Your social media space might be something you want to keep family friendly, and thus no inappropriate language will be allowed. Alternatively, it might be a space with an adult crowd where just about anything goes. Whatever you decide, you should make it clear what the boundaries are regarding foul language on your page, and proceed from there. If someone has a valid complaint, they should be able to make it without breaking any of the rules you have created.

2. If someone is making threats. No one has the right to threaten anyone on your social pages. Not your community managers, and not your fans.

3. If someone is spamming. Spam can mean a few different things. If someone is using your page to sell their products, that’s spamming. If someone keeps posting the same message over and over again, that’s spamming (just be sure you are actually responding to complaints, so people don’t need to ask twice). This is your page, and you don’t have to let spam happen.

4. When regulations are in place. In some industries, having certain information in public could cost you. Regulations like HIPPA and FINRA dictate what information can appear on social media. Anything that violates these regulations should be removed immediately.

Everything else should stay. It’s not fun to see complaints out in the open, but the good news is you have a chance to respond out in the open too. For as long as businesses have been around, complaints about them have too. Don’t let that scare you off of social media. Rather, embrace this new space you can engage with your customers, and keep your hand (mostly) off the delete button.

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