It’s Social Media, Not Propaganda

This is a point that I could have made in my previous post about listening and responding to your customers, but it’s one that I feel very strongly about and wanted to emphasize and also go into a bit more detail about. Whether you take my advice or not, no matter how you handle your customers’ feedback, the one thing I beg of you is this:

Do not delete negative feedback.

Some people will say there are mixed opinions on it and normally I would agree, but this one is absolute. Here is why:

It’s social media, not propaganda. Social media is meant to be social; it’s people sitting on the internet discussing their personal opinions and feelings. At your dinner parties, does everybody always agree on everything? If so, then I invite you to dine with my family; you’re in for quite an experience. If you’re going to try to rule your page with an iron fist, then your consumers are going to stop subscribing to you, stop talking to you, and stop paying attention to you; once you’ve lost your audience, you might as well be talking to yourself (in fact, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing).

What are you hiding from? Deleting a complaint is worse than saying “No comment.” It’s like saying, “You’re right, but we don’t want to acknowledge that we have a problem, AND we don’t want anyone else to know about it…so we’re going to try to silence you.” Nobody is perfect and nobody is asking you to be, but the worst thing you can be is arrogant or close-minded. As I said in my previous post, you don’t need to promise the world, or even promise anything, but at least thank the person for their feedback and apologize that they had a back experience. Simple as that. Crisis averted. 

Bad news spreads 10x as fast. Let’s assume you leave a negative comment up there, unresponded to. (Not something I would recommend, but for the sake of argument, let’s suppose.) An angry customer might feel ignored, they might think you don’t care, or even that the page isn’t being monitored carefully. So they’re upset, but there’s no reason to wage war. NOW let’s suppose that a day after posting a complaint, the customer sees that the post has been deleted. Now they know you’re listening, but that you intend (as I said above) on trying to silence them; you’ve just issued a challenge. Do you know what happens next? Your unhappy consumer takes their complaint to every social media channel they subscribe to, every forum they can find, and every news outlet they can find. Within minutes, you will have hundreds more people inquiries demanding a response to this user’s complaint, all because you pushed the Delete button. Believe me, this is something I’ve experienced first-hand (you learn from your mistakes) and it gets very ugly, very fast.

At the end of the day, your best bet is always to respond. But even if you choose not to, then please, pretty please, I beg of you, just don’t delete the negative feedback.


Note: Just to clarify, this post refers strictly to bad user experiences, complaints, or discontent with a product or service. Posts that are filled with explicit language, hate speech, or threats obviously can and should be removed by a moderator as quickly as possible.

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