When should you delete a comment on your Facebook Page?

from LOLCats.com

If you’re like most nonprofits, the question of what to do with comments on your Facebook Page that are innappropriate or harmful comes up at one point or another. You want to allow your fans to have free reign on your Facebook Page, but you also want to protect the innocent.

Ultimately, you need to discuss these issues with your coworkers, but here are a few points to keep in mind:

How to deal with comments on your Facebook Page

1. When the comment is hurtful

Protecting your community should be job one. They need to feel that you will stand up against a commenter whose only intention is to hurt them. In some cases, particularly with passionate communities, you might let other fans deal with the commenter. However, if the commenter crosses a line, you should delete the comment and/or remove them as a fan.

Also remember that hurtful comments about other Facebook communities should not be tolerated, even if you disagree with that communities politics or beliefs. Maintain a high level of respect and dignity for all people as a baseline – it will benefit your organization in the long run.

2. When the comment is spam

Uninvited comments that are promoting a product unrelated to your community is spam. You can either delete it or flag it as inappropriate.

You could also call out the commenter as spam, or as Shannon Boudjema recommends: “Name and shame while educating them as to why they’re getting their hands professionally slapped.”

3. When the comment is not age appropriate

For Page communities that include 13 to 18-year olds, it might be a good idea to enlist a few adults to help moderate the Page. Make sure these moderators have a clear set of guidelines regarding their roles and the rules of engagement.

Also, consider starting a secret group for in-depth discussions that teens have attempted to conduct on the Page.

Don’t delete criticism

It may be tempting to delete comments that are critical of your organization. But don’t. Acknowledge criticism that is legitimate and respond respectfully. You’ll learn that diversity of mind on your Page is an asset, not a hinderance.

And keep in mind that commenters can take screen grabs of their comments as they make them. You wouldn’t want to be seen as an org that deletes legit comments just because they’re critical.

What else? Comment below

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  1. Fortunately, I haven't had too many problems with this. I've deleted comments that were completely off topic and spam type ones. While I would be bummed if I got negative comments, I would leave them there.

    1. I see criticism as an opportunity to demonstrate ones ability to listen,
      understand and dialogue. All critical aspects to developing and maintaining
      a brand.

  2. John, I've seen some organizations really struggle with this issue. It can be counter-intuitive to leave criticism up, but you explained it beautifully. My thought is people will be much less willing to participate in legitimate dialogue if they see your organization as a place that will randomly delete comments.

    It occurs to me that it might be helpful to give organizations some guidelines for dealing effectively with negative comments on FB. Several of the “worst-case scenario” case studies I've seen over the past few months seem to revolve around mistakes made while responding to criticism.

    This most likely counts in the spam category, but lately I've seen political candidates (and people posting on behalf of political candidates) leaving wall posts on our nonprofit's Facebook Page that essentially say, “Hey, check out what I stand for by visiting my website!” or “Support <insert name here>!” along with a link.

    I'm in a fairly close-knit community, and it boggles my mind that this seems like a good idea to some folks. There is no attempt to connect the comment to what our nonprofit does: it is 100% pure self-promotion.

    After some internal discussions, we decided that it's acceptable to delete posts like this. Interested to hear other people's thoughts, though. :)

    1. Mickey – I always love your comments. You're thoughtful and wise.

      I bet that many of the comments made by those “political candidates” are from agencies. The close the deal by promising a specific amount of exposure without any consideration to how it might impact the politicians brand. Both parties may not have the experience or foresight to see the negative impact these comments create.

      So you're thinking that some general guidelines of how to post of other Pages might be useful?

      1. Why thank you, John! Your posts challenge me to think, that's why I love checking in here. :)

        Can you post on another page using the identity of your page? If so, I'm not sure how to do that – I always end up posting using my profile identity.

        It might be useful to provide some guidelines for individuals posting on other pages on behalf of specific issues or organizations. But I was thinking more about tips for responding effectively (and successfully) to criticism on your page. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that some organizations delete criticism out of fear, not really knowing how to turn it around and make it into something genuinely positive.

        1. You post to another page by tagging that page in a status update on your own Page. The best way to do this is to selflessly praise what the other Page's community is doing.

  3. I'd also consider deleting comments with misinformation in them – about health, or scientific information for example. You might decide to correct the mistake in a comment instead, but not everyone will read the comments. I think setting the facts straight is worth deleting an entire post.

  4. John,

    Totally agree on not deleting criticism and instead acknowledge, we've used the same across all social media platforms and it's much easier to turn around someone who is unhappy by just opening a dialogue.

    We've also a couple of fans that have been fairly hateful / culturally insensitive on our FB page and have looked to block them. How do you easily find a fan out of 20,000+ fans through the pretty basic tools FB provides?

  5. Great post, John – and necessary. I agree that most orgs instinctively want to delete negative comments, but criticism is a wonderful opportunity for a non-profit. If the criticism is misguided (based on incorrect or misunderstood information), correcting the poster in the comment box is ideal because the poster might be voicing something other donors/supporters wonder about. If the criticism is simply that…a criticism of your work and how you do it, as long as the comment isn't hateful to your community over all, addressing the posters comments is a wonderful way to show your donors that you're a community-driven organization and not an ivory tower, willing to listen to and consider the advice of the people who support you.

    I've been blessed to not have to deal with that problem, but spammers are something we all have to deal with and I like Shannon's name and shame solution. A lot of spammers legitimately don't understand why you're unappreciative of their self-promotion. Informing them helps prevent them from doing it on your orgs page again or any other orgs page – and hey, why not help your overall non-profit community on facebook?

  6. I run the social media for LIVESTRONG. I delete spam and offensive comments, but have started deleting the “first, second, thirds”. Doesn't bother me, but the community really hates it. It diverts attention from topic to the troll and causes more offensive comments.

  7. I am admin on another page and we delete offensive, spam, flaming, age inappropriate and arguing. If we don't, it just continues for pages. And it is not on the what the page is about, it is picking on each other, arguing over what is right or wrong, etc. Unfortunately there seems to be a whole set of people that love just going to pages and putting in some of the most horrible posts you have ever seen with the total reason to disrupt. We also use the ban button when necessary.