I'm going to dispel a social media fallacy right now: Not only is it OK to delete a comment, post or thread – in some cases you should.
Suddenly the granite of the social media Commandments is showing its age. "Thou shalt not delete a user comment!" It can be done, and it can be done in a proper fashion.
"You can get a head start by publishing a community guidelines document explaining what will and won't get deleted." – John Frost, TheDisneyBlog.com
First and foremost, whether you are a personal blogger or the professional social media representative of a brand or business, you need a publicly accessible social media standards document. This document should outline any and all reasons why a user might have their comments deleted within your social channel. The terms by which you will delete a post are subject to scrutiny. I'm certainly not trying to advocate that you delete every negative thing said about you.
Deleting should be one of the last things that you are forced to do for reasons such as, but not limited to:
- Any and all comments associated with inflicting harm on another individual
- Any and all comments that would subject your audience to content uncharacteristic of your voice and tone
- Any and all comments that could be perceived as litigious (if this is the case be sure to take a screengrab, C&P the content to a TXT file, make a note of the date, time and exactly what/why was deleted)
McDonald's even goes so far as to advocate that their fans "play nice:"
Help us create a positive experience. - We are here to share with you and we invite an open dialogue. To help this Fan Page be a positive experience for the entire community, please be respectful toward others by complying with the terms and policies of Facebook and avoid posting spam or comments that attack or discriminate against other users, contain expletives, include inflammatory religious content, or reference a third party pages or websites. This content may be removed. If an individual repeatedly violates this policy, that user will be blocked from posting in the future.
Be forewarned however, this is a slippery slope, there are many people (such as me, dammit!) who utilize profanity for emphasis – not necessarily just for shock value or in a lowbrow way. As long as this does not deviate from any boundaries you have put in your standard operating procedures, I would just leave it.
Remember the rules of engagement when it comes to trolls. Analize, Assess, Reply and in some limited cases remove.
It's Best To Let It Die
The simple rule of thumb in most cases is to just LEAVE IT! The exceptions are when a statement might damage the company economically, cast you in a light that could create legal action, or openly insult your audience and create a mass exodus. People are entitled to their opinion, even when you don’t want to hear it. It's also important to understand that people who challenge your messaging often provide you with an opportunity to test your brand and ensure its mission is rock solid.
They Should Be Lovin' It
What's most important is creating an environment where your audience can thrive. Rick Wion of McDonald's (a man I have the highest professional respect for) says of their social media efforts, "Brands should want to create a pleasant experience for our fans."
That being said, it's also equally important to remember that you get what you give. If your tone and manner is consistently enticing the wrong people, then they will come. And while it's good to challenge your audience with compelling debate, it's best not to encourage discussion that will prime people to turn against your overall brand position.
What's your take? Have you deleted comments? Why, and how did you go about doing so? I want to hear the way you run your social. Let's talk!