Ever get that comment on your blog or social networking profile that made your stomach feel a little funny? Maybe it was critical of something you said. Maybe it bashed another commenter on your wall. Maybe it was completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. What do you do about that?
We talk a lot in social media circles about the need for authenticity and transparency. Deleting what other people have said is considered a last resort, and several major brands have been slammed quite publicly for deleting critical comments on their online presences. It’s a tough quandary. After all, it’s important for us to represent our brand in a positive way. But at the same time, if the online conversation isn’t real, and we don’t take the opportunity to fix things that are broken instead of trying to hide them, people will call us out on them.
So how does that impact you? How do you decide which comments to let stand, and which to remove on your own presences? Here are few thoughts:
- If the comment is critical of the person or brand being discussed, yet respectful, let it stand, and simply provide a thoughtful response. That response could correct a misconception, apologize for a problem, or assure the person that you’re looking into it.
- If the post criticizes another commenter, I delete it, typically. Disagreement on issues is fine. But when it comes to pointing fingers at others, or bullying, I don’t think that’s appropriate. I want my presences to be a safe place for everyone to discuss issues without fear of personal attacks.
- If the comment has curse words, that’s an automatic deletion. Same goes for mean-spirited posts that are simply designed to cause trouble.
- If the post is self-promoting, and has nothing to do with the topic at hand, feel free to delete it. It brings no value to the discussion. (Sometimes, if something is borderline, and it’s a place I can edit the comment, I will simply remove or disable a link that is included.)
It’s important to remember that you never want to try to hide things in social media. It will almost always come back to bite you. Better to allow the conversation to happen in a place where you can provide your perspective. But at the same time, it IS your presence, and you have the right to set the ground rules about what is appropriate…thus my rules about bullying, cursing, etc.
Some organizations have even gone so far as to create a posted comments policy. Your company’s Facebook Page might have one. It states quite simply what is allowed, and what isn’t. This creates an environment that is comfortable for all participants.
So what are your thoughts on this issue? How do you handle uncomfortable comments and posts? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.