What Does Deleting Negative Comments Say About Your Brand?

What Does Deleting Negative Comments Say About Your Brand?
By Bruce Warren

Negative social comments are a fact of life in the omni-channel marketplace. Regardless of the quality of your brand’s customer experience, it’s inevitable that negative mentions will appear on social media sites and other unsolicited feedback channels.

Savvy brands understand that it’s rarely a good idea to delete negative social comments, although few can explain why it’s important to leave a scathing review of the brand or its products visible to key audiences. The simple truth is that the removal of negative mentions says a lot about the brand, so it’s critical for decision-makers to appreciate the value of negative social comments and to understand how these comments can actually improve the brand’s credibility among consumers.

The Value of Negative Comments

Like it or not, brands no longer retain control over messaging. The proliferation of social and mobile channels has empowered consumers with the ability to generate instantly available messages about brand interactions and distribute those messages across multiple locations. Although it’s possible for brands to track down and delete negative mentions, it’s neither practical nor advisable to do so.

No advantages are gained by censoring social media. In fact, brands that delete all or most negative social media mentions run the risk of turning away generations of consumers. Why? Because consumers interpret the removal of negative comments as fear-based attempts to obscure serious shortcomings in the brand’s customer experience.

According to recent Empathica research, six out of ten consumers follow at least one brand via a social network like Facebook or Twitter. The most enlightened brands embrace unfiltered social comments as a way to engage with consumers in a new medium. Instead of restricting consumers’ ability to post comments about products or brand experiences, these retailers leverage customer-generated content as a tool for improving brand relationships and refining the customer experience.

Tips for Marketers

Negative social comments don’t have to be a source of fear for brands. There are several strategies marketers can use to leverage open social channel engagement as a tool for developing deeper brand-consumer relationships.

  • Focus on Transparency. Consumers value transparency because it fosters trust. If consumers believe the brand is being less than forthcoming in its social interactions, they are less inclined to trust the claims the brand makes about itself or its products. But by promoting transparency across all channels, responding to negative mentions and allowing nearly all comments to be seen by social audiences, brands prove that they have nothing to hide from their customers.
  • Know When It’s Okay to Delete. Although rare, there are some instances in which it may be appropriate to delete negative social comments. For example, if the comment is offensive or contains profanity, it should be deleted immediately. It may also be appropriate to delete comments that are off-topic, especially if they contaminate the conversation in a specific comment thread.
  • Capture Feedback Insights. Negative social comments are a form of customer feedback. In addition to capturing insights from solicited feedback mechanisms like surveys or call centers, it’s important to glean insights from unsolicited feedback—including negative comments on social media sites. More often than not, a series of negative mentions around a similar topic are highlighting vulnerable areas in the customer experience.
No retailer likes to see negative social comments about their brand. But rather than ignoring or deleting negative comments, it’s important to approach less-than-stellar mentions as valuable feedback data that can be used to build trust and improve the quality of the customer experience.

Bruce Warren is vice president of marketing at Empathica, a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to the world’s most respected multi-unit enterprises in retail, food services, banking, petro and hospitality sectors. Bruce is responsible for driving all aspects of the company’s global marketing activities including corporate communications, events, product marketing and online marketing initiatives. Prior to joining Empathica, Bruce gained over 15 years of marketing and product management experience in North America and Europe at companies including Critical Path, AOL, Yahoo!, Celador and Aetna Life.

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee via Photo Pin | Creative Commons