Why Brands Should Never Delete a Negative Social Media Comment and What They Should Do Instead

By Grazel Gueco

Negative comments on social media are a tricky situation whether it’s spewing abuse or a cry for customer service. Naturally, you don’t want your page marred with one or a stack of negative comments. Naturally, violent comments and hate speech can’t be left on your page. But the right way to manage these comments is not always clear.

For many of us, the instinctual response is to delete something offensive. But really, you have three options: Respond to the comment, hide it from public view, or delete. Responding is always the best option. However, in the cases where you can’t, hiding would be your second best option.

Deleting vs. Hiding Social Media Comments: What’s the Difference?

So what exactly is the difference between deleting and hiding? Trust us, it’s huge. Deleting a comment on one of your posts removes it from the platform forever. It’s not archived, it’s gone. Removed from the server. Not even the original poster will be able to see it on their own history – and they notice.

Hiding a post makes it no longer visible on your post and feed. Your users, customers, and community won’t be able to see it, but the original user will if they go looking for their post. Often, they won’t realise the comment has been hidden.  It won’t create a gap in their history and also maintains a record of negative, hateful, violent, or spammy comments made by this user.

You can even choose to both respond to the comment and hide it at the same time, reaching out to the user to offer support that they can see, while the comment and conversation are no longer visible to the public.

Impacting the Posting User

The single most important reason why not to delete comments is user response. People are passionate about free speech on social media, especially if they feel you are silencing a complaint that others should see (even if it is not legitimate). Seeing a comment deleted can create a storm of negative activity and a negative campaign about the post being deleted.

Even if the original post was not helpful, was pure hate, or was wrong, a deleted post can be intensely offensive to the original poster and turn one negative comment into a storm of negativity that can spiral from one user to many.

Triggering a Negative Reaction Storm

About 80% of users believe that hate speech and violence-inciting messages should be removed, but when someone starts shouting about being silenced, even people who would have been offended by the original post may be on the side of the original poster. People believe strongly in the right to be heard and speak their minds freely on social media without commercial or official backlash. 

If there is the suggestion that your brand deletes comments they “don’t like” or that “make the brand look bad” this can cause a much bigger problem and snowball into a PR disaster as one negative comment becomes a negative reaction storm.

Leaving the Paper Trail

Here’s another reason to hide instead of deleting those comments: Leaving the record intact. When you delete a comment, it’s gone forever. It also can’t be reviewed by platform admins or used as evidence that one user is a regular source of hate speech, violent statements, or lies about your brand. If specific users are an ongoing problem, hiding those comments not only removes them from your posts and pages, it also leaves a record of their abuse that may be useful, even essential, to you later. An archived (but not deleted) comment may also be helpful to another person or brand being harassed by the user to prove there is a pattern of hate and negativity.

Negative Comments and Customer Service

Brands should always strive to respond, especially when they receive negative feedback. When you handle negative feedback effectively, you can uphold your brand’s reputation instead of tarnishing it. Others will form their opinion based on what they see on the page. Therefore, by acknowledging the issue openly and providing a solution to negative feedback, you’re showing customers that you care and are being transparent with how you deal with issues. Having great customer care speaks a lot more than silencing negativity.

TL; DR: Always respond if you can. If not, respond and hide the comment. Only delete the comment if all other means have been exhausted. Take your customer service to the next level with our team. Contact us today.