If your company invests money promoting through Facebook, it is just one in the herd. It receives no kudos for being innovative, and, in that regard, it is not special. This type of promotion is expected, and, in all likelihood, your company has a presence on other social media platforms as well. Every company wants brand awareness. That’s part of a successful growth model.
There is no perfect product. There is not a single company or organization in the business of making everyone happy by simply existing. Your product or service fills a need, and social media marketing is a way of defending a claim that your product or service is superior to the alternatives.
Of course, not everyone will agree with your claim.
“Your product broke in two months.”
“The service was terrible.”
“Your burrito gave me food poisoning.”
All of the above three negative experiences expressed through Facebook comment discourse inevitably arise. Don’t become delusional that your company or organization is without blemish. Products break. Staff can have bad days. Food can make people sick. It happens. If these complaints manifested in the form of a phone call or a visit to your physical location, would you hang up the phone or kick the customer out in at the first sign of trouble? Probably not. So why do it on a social platform?
In most cases, your social media presence does not sell the product or offer the service directly. Therefore, your visitors and community are consumers of information, reading the social narrative about your business and your brand. When I research other companies’ social media sites and look at the social dialogue, I carefully scrutinize the commentary. If a Facebook page with over 1,500 likes has no negative discursive artifacts, I’m immediately suspicious. A Pollyanna Facebook page is not just weird, but also statistically aberrant.
Don’t do it
Reason One: By deleting or censoring complaints, you are effectively delivering a double-whammy of bad experience. Nothing says, “we don’t care,” better than ignoring the voice, online or not.
Reason Two: Complaints and criticism are a learning experience. Maybe your product is flawed and somehow hit the market. You need to know this information. If the concern, criticism, or complaint is rooted in user error, your customer needs to know that as well. This is customer service 101. By deleting negative responses, you’re missing out on data and a helpful conversation that is equally visible.
Reason Three: Your social evangelists can’t get your back. Remember that you have happy consumers who are ready and willing to share their positive experiences. Maybe your burrito did make someone sick, but many other customers eat one every week because they are hooked on its devastating deliciousness.
Reason Four: When you delete criticisms and complaints, you are devaluing your claim of product or service superiority. Somewhere in your mission statement is an iteration of we care. By deleting a complaint, a negative comment, or a criticism, you’ve just defiled your own values. Dealing with negative commentary is a way to make your value system visible to the public. It proves you actually do what you believe. It lives and breathes.
Reason Five: Having difficult conversations is part of being an adult. When you were playing in the sandbox and a bully called you a name, perhaps your parents advised you to ignore it so the bully would become dissatisfied and go away. This doesn’t work in business. Sticks and stones become verbal bricks and bats if you ignore your customers’ concerns. Moreover, if these discounted customers share their negative experiences with friends, you might face a mob of bullies.
Dealing with negative comments on Facebook directly and with helpful dialogue is part of being a good community manager. Grow up and engage with your dissatisfied consumers. If you transform these complaints into visible resolutions, you’ve just proved your value to the world.