Critical comments: let ’em go. Unless….

Photo from the Lifehack blog

It’s somewhat well known that critical comments posted to your Facebook wall, blog, or other social media space are actually a good thing: they allow you to answer questions or understand when your customers/clients think something needs improvement. However, not all criticism is created equal–such as when people get mean, nasty, or profane. If you want to build a community that welcomes dissent, then, where you draw the line?

There are three general types of negative comments:

  • Constructive criticism: members of your community who have a concern, but who want to make things better
  • Criticism: members of your community who have a complaint, and who just want to vent
  • Personal attacks, profanity, or libel: members of your community who want blood, revenge, or attention

You should clearly encourage the first and simply let the second go. The third? For most, it’s permissible–even advisable–that you delete them. The key is establishing community standards that treat personal attacks, profanity and libel like spam: after all, when allowed to persist they erode the credibility of your brand, put you–and perhaps your community members–at risk, and make it seem like no one’s minding the store. The key is to share these guidelines in a conspicuous place, follow them consistently, and address abuses promptly.

Remember: you’ve created a space where you’ve ask people to share their thoughts. It’s up to you to decide how to handle critical comments, but if you invite people to a community, it’s imperative that you address it, one way or another.

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