We’ve all had it happen: A negative comment on a Facebook Page post glares at you from the screen.
Our first instinct (or at least, mine) is to hide the negative comment or somehow bury it, so it won’t hurt the post or my business, (especially in this age where social media reputation weighs so heavily). We do, after all, have the option to hide comments on Facebook.
So, should you actually hide comments on your Facebook Page?
The short answer: sometimes yes and sometimes no.
Either way, you shouldn’t automatically hide negative comments just because they’re negative. There are pros and cons to hiding comments on Facebook, and other strategies you can use instead.
Before you hide (any more) comments on your Page, make sure you read this post.
What Types of Comments Should I Consider Hiding?
The first type of comment that will typically trigger our “hide” reflexes will be negative comments about our content or our brands. Not only do they make us automatically defensive, but negative sentiments shared online can hurt our businesses. Because social media often acts as powerful word-of-mouth marketing, we want those comments to work in our favor.
There are other types of comments you should consider hiding, too, such as:
Blatant spam. These comments may send users to broken links or sites with viruses and malware
Self-promotion from other users. One case I see the most often are users trying to put their “refer a friend and get $15” codes on the business’s posts to rack up referral bonuses. Another example: When one user posts links to their own content over and over on your own statuses, trying to generate traffic from your momentum.
Inappropriate content or language. This includes explicit language, sexual content, or racist, homophobic, or sexist comments.
Pros & Cons of Hiding Comments on Facebook
The pros of hiding negative comments on your Facebook Page are clear. Ideally, you’d protect your business’s reputation and eliminate any negative sentiments from your posts.
It can actually hurt your Page if you’ve got a ton of spam in comments on every post that you don’t hide or delete. The last thing you want is someone turning your post into a hotbed of controversy that has nothing to do with the original status. Nipping all of this in the bud can benefit you.
There are cons of hiding comments on Facebook that you should consider, however. (Especially when you hide comments that aren’t offensive and only criticize your business. If users notice—and many will—there can be a perceived loss of transparency.)
Social media is all about transparency, so people may not trust you, leading to a loss of customer loyalty.
In rare cases, users who notice that you’ve deleted their comment can get angry—really angry.
This is most common when they’re already agitated and tried to complain about a product or customer service. Deleting their comment may not do you much good; they might leave you a scathing 1-star review or very vocally take their opinion somewhere you can’t control it—like their own pages.
Though you can’t avoid fallouts with all of these so-angry-their-eyes-are-bulging-out-of-their-heads customers, reducing collateral damage is a plus.
Hiding vs. Deleting vs. Banning
When you go to hide a comment, you’ll see that you can also delete the comment or ban the user who left it.
Here’s what the options actually mean …
Hiding the Facebook comment will keep it hidden from everyone except that person and their friends. They won’t know that the comment is hidden, so you can avoid potential fallout.
Deleting the Facebook comment will erase it; no one will be able to see it. The user will know that the negative comment has been deleted if they go to view it again, but they won’t be notified of its deletion.
Banning users will keep that particular user from commenting on any of your posts ever again. This is a good move for users that are unreasonable and seem to enjoy leaving negative comments every chance they get, or for users who drop spam or offensive content on your posts.
What Can You Do Instead?
Instead of jumping to hide comments on Facebook posts automatically, ask yourself whether there’s another way to resolve the situation.
Sometimes, users really are just frustrated; in these cases, remember that a bad customer experience turned into a good one can create some of our most vocal advocates for our brands in the long run.
Addressing comments head-on can sometimes be the best approach. Social media thrives on transparency, and showing other users that your brand is ready to step up and resolve complaints will actively help you. If you can solve their problem publicly, other users will take notice. Lyft does this extremely well, as pictured in the example below.
If you can’t offer an immediate solution, reply to the comment and ask the user to move to a private message to resolve the issue. Many users will be willing to do this. And if they aren’t, you still look good for having publicly attempted to get to the bottom of their complaints.
Sometimes, though, hiding is the best option. Comments that can truly hurt your business should be hidden if they can’t be addressed. It’s easier to do this if you catch the comment early before it gets much visibility or any traction with engagement. Similarly, comments who come from users who will just stay unhappy no matter should be hidden if they’re at risk for impacting other users’ perception of you.
When You Should Always Hide Comments on Facebook
There are some cases when you should always hide comments, if not delete them or ban their creators entirely. This includes comments that:
Are blatantly spam
Are offensive or inappropriate
Have been reported by other users
Come from “trolls” or users determined to drag your name through the mud
In all those cases, go ahead and delete the comment completely and ban the user; they’ll almost definitely bring trouble back to another thread later.
When Should I Skip Hiding and Go Straight to Other Options?
Hiding a comment on your Facebook Page may seem like an extreme option, but this option really is one of the tamer ones. Deleting the comment ensures that no one can see it, and banning the user means they can never interact with your Page again.
It’s almost always going to be a good bet to keep an eye on users if you’ve had to hide their comments before. If their first comment isn’t worthy of banning them outright (which it would be, for example, if they were antagonizing other customers) but it’s something that concerns you moving forward, you can put a label on the user through Agorapulse. This will only be seen by you or your team, but it allows you to flag users who may be an issue moving forward. If there are repeat problems, you may be able to spot them easier and act more decisively to ban them outright.
If you do decide to ban someone, deleting their comment all together is typically warranted. Deleting may also be a strong option if the comment doesn’t offer any value whatsoever (because sometimes negative comments do offer some sort of value, even if it’s just for their friends and followers to see your level-headed response).
For example, sometimes someone will comment about my appearance on my professional Facebook Page. I’m personally in the camp that this is never OK, and the comments range from borderline like “so pretty” to more obscene ones. Here, I originally hid the comment, but later went back to delete it altogether when I really established a no-tolerance rule in my professional business.
If you’re on a social media management team and want to let the business owner decide what to do, keep in mind that you can always hide the comment for now and delete it at a later date.
You can take this approach if you feel that a user may be lying or exaggerating about something, and you want to hide the comment to do some fact-checking before taking more decisive action. For example, I once worked for a brand where this was the case: Someone said their daughter had been carted out of the restaurant in an ambulance because her shellfish allergy was ignored. I paused hid the comment while I did research, only to find that not only did the incident never occur but that the restaurant was vegan—no shellfish in sight.
Sometimes the hide button gives you enough time to make a decision, so a bad snap judgment isn’t made.
When Should I Respond to the Comment Instead of Hiding It?
Part of this will come down to a bit of gut instinct, but if you read a comment and it reads like a legitimate complaint from a frustrated customer, there’s a good chance you’ll get further in the situation by confronting it head-on.
I’ve been the customer who has been considering a brand, sees a negative comment on one of the brand’s ads, and then notice an hour later that the comment is mysteriously gone. That doesn’t read like great transparency to me, and it’s actually stopped me from purchasing before. I’m far from the only one; consumers today are savvier than ever before, and they’re less trustful of brands in general.
If you hide that comment, too, remember what we said earlier—if the customer figures it out, they could get really angry, especially if they’re already at a tipping point. Reaching out directly, addressing questions, and offering to find a solution is a better way to go here. They’ll appreciate it, it gives you a chance to rescue a guest experience, and other users will take notice, too.
Are There Ever Comments That Should Be Left Alone?
You don’t really need to respond to directly to some comments. Though I’m a big fan of trying to engage with everyone who interacts with you on your Page or your Ad, at a certain scale, it becomes so difficult. We’re all used to seeing naysayers everywhere we go, and most consumers are pretty good and spotting and writing off people who just want to complain.
Let’s take a look at an example. The first two comments on this ad from Freshly are negative, arguing that the product is pointless. It’s too expensive, it’s not really homemade … On and on they go. These comments may dissuade some tentative users from learning more, but the true audience for these ads—those who are struggling to make dinners at home for whatever reason and need a little help cooking—won’t necessarily be put off by their comments.
The brand didn’t even need to respond, as it turns out, because Christine Potter came in and argued on the brand’s behalf, which looks so much better to third-parties than a defense from Freshly itself probably would have. She argues for the validity of the service and explains how it’s benefited her. Though you should monitor your campaigns and don’t necessarily need to hide all comments, keep an eye on them nonetheless, so you can take action if anything escalates.
How to Hide Comments on Facebook: Tutorial
To hide comments on Facebook’s native platform, all you have to do is hover over the comment. You’ll see a drop-down arrow; when you click on it, you’ll see the option to “hide comment” or “embed.” Just click “hide comment.”
After you do this, you’ll see other options you can take, including “unhide,” “delete,” and “ban user.”
Agorapulse’s moderation tools make it incredibly simple to find comments that need your attention quickly. You can view all comments under the “Inbox” tab and select your Facebook Page. To hide a comment, click on it.
The post and comment will be fully displayed, and you can choose to hide, bookmark, or remove comments. Once you’ve hidden a comment, you can unhide it at any time from the Agorapulse dashboard.
If you want something more automated, you can set up moderation rules that will trigger actions upon seeing certain keywords. If, for example, you don’t want a whole bunch of comments or “visitor posts” with links to external Websites or contests, set up a rule to filter out “http.”
Then tell Agorapulse what you want done with any comment that features “http.” In this case, I set up the tool to bookmark, tag, and hide comments and visitor posts with that trigger.
You see the “email notification” in the above illustration? I’ve also said “yes” to receive emails each time the rule is triggered. Here’s an email I recently received about a visitor post that included a Website link.
I can then decide to keep it hidden (thanks to the rule I set up) or if for some reason, that comment/link was important, I can go into Agorapulse and “unhide” it.
Best Practices for Hiding Comments
In addition to all the strategies and situations discussed above, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when hiding comments on Facebook.
Hide them early. We discussed this above briefly, but it was important enough to mention again. If you’re hiding a comment, you have a good reason; make sure you take it off display as soon as possible to mitigate any potential damage it could do.
Address it if other users ask. Some users (or even the original commenter) may notice the hidden comment and generate further discussion about it; since the potential loss of transparency is huge, address the issue if it comes up. Explain clearly why you hid the comment: was it offensive? Did the user have a history of leaving negative comments? If you hide a comment, you’d better have a good reason—and this is why.
Always consider alternative actions first. While we’ve all got an itching trigger finger when we have the opportunity to delete negative sentiments about our brand, don’t jump to hit the hide button immediately; consider what other alternatives you have, and what would be most productive. The last thing you want is users to trust you less when you had an opportunity to increase their trust further.
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Hiding comments on Facebook can hurt you or help you, depending on the comment in question. In some cases, hiding comments won’t be the best move; instead, you should address the comment head-on for more productive and beneficial results. Either way, the features in Agorapulse make it easier for you to decide which action to take.
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Originally published on Feb. 21, 2017, this article now has been updated.
Read more: agorapulse.com