In this 5-minute read:
- Should you delete or censor political comments?
- How to deal with political comments
During periods of high political turmoil, particularly during elections, we see a lot more discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms concerning politics or sensitive social issues. It’s pretty common to see these discussions quickly escalate to bullying and name-calling when two or more parties disagree on a given topic.
It can be very tempting to become jaded to the entire situation and either block comments or selectively delete comments (particularly if you don’t agree with them). We’re going to discuss the options that you, as a business owner, have when it comes to handling political comments that might get posted to your own website, forums, review platforms, and/or social media posts.
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Should you censor or delete political comments from your business’s social media profiles?
You are within every right to delete political comments (or any comments, really) from your business’s social media posts. But that can also send a message that you might not want to send to your customers.
When determining whether or not to delete a comment from your social posts, you need to think about your brand and how you want it to be represented and whether or not deleting these comments aligns with your goals.
What will it look like if you delete a particular comment from your posts or content?
While most businesses try to avoid political conversations in the marketing efforts, customers may still turn a seemingly innocent post into a political discussion. If you decide to delete their comments for the sake of appearing neutral, it may have the opposite effect. That customer who posted the original comment might notice their comment was removed and think that you disagree with their stance and are trying to silence them. That’s not always the case, but it’s a strong possibility.
On the other hand, if you let the political discussion ensue, it could leave other customers with a bad taste in their mouth when they see heated political conversation on your social media posts, possibly resulting in them “unfollowing” your business or even avoid visiting you and spending money.
Generally speaking, we would lean toward not deleting or censoring political commentary on your social media posts, with the exception of extreme cases like highly offensive comments. But there’s really no right or wrong answer here, since your business’s stance on political issues is entirely up to you, and each decision is going to have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
How to deal with political comments on social media (several options)
We do have a few tips for dealing with political comments on social media posts, outside of just deleting them.
Let it play out
It’s okay to let discussions play out between other people on your posts. If they didn’t address you or your business directly, you don’t need to feel like you need to get involved. In this way, your business can remain neutral while your customers duke it out.
You may also get more attention from the social media platform if your posts have a lot of activity from commenters, so it might actually be beneficial in some cases to allow people to say what they want (within reason) on your channels.
Political discussions aren’t always heated or offensive, either. These commenters might have a meaningful discussion that helps them reaffirm their views or even helps them empathize with the other side. Your company might seem “fair” if you allow more freedom of discussion.
Don’t feed the trolls
We all know those people who like to troll comments for opportunities to start arguments and heated discussions. It’s a game to them. Don’t play it.
Stay out of the conversation and don’t add fuel to the fire. If a comment is obviously intentionally inflammatory, insulting, irrelevant, and/or “trolling,” simply delete it and block the user.
Add to the conversation
You’ll definitely want to tread carefully with this option. But depending on your brand strategy and personal convictions, you might want people to know your political views as a business, and you may choose to get involved in the conversation.
If you do this, just be sure to be the adult, keep it civil, and be the voice of reason in the conversation. Taking the professional high road generally looks better than throwing punches right back at the bullies.
Before you do insert yourself into the conversation though, consider these questions:
- Does your business culture align with the issue?
- What do your employees think about the issue?
- Can you handle any backlash (from commenters or employees)?
As much as you may want to defend your personal political beliefs, your brand and business become bigger than you when you have employees and your customers to think about. So sometimes it’s best to stay out of it.
Delete offensive comments
Sometimes people get downright dirty, abusive, and/or threatening when they are in the heat of a political discussion, particularly in the mostly anonymous online world. As we said, you are within every right to delete these comments. Most businesses want to keep a family-friendly atmosphere and customers understand that. You don’t have to keep inappropriate comments on your social posts.
Certain comments may even cross the line of legality or be prohibited by the social media platform. In these cases, you should use the “report” feature and block the user.
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Turn commenting off on a particular post
You may even consider turning off the comments on a particular post that did get heated and just follow up with a comment from your business stating something along the lines of “We’re sorry to disrupt the discussion, but in order to keep our posts family-friendly, we have turned the commenting off on this post.”
Delete any and all political content
Another option is to not allow any political discussion on your business’s channels. This will require a good bit of monitoring/moderating on your part, because people online generally talk about all kinds of things in all kinds of platforms.
If you really are going to be strict about staying apolitical, you’ll need to set up notifications for any key terms you don’t want comments about, or be sure to check your comment feed regularly and delete political comments. It’s a good idea to regularly remind people that you don’t allow political topics, so hopefully they get the message.
Just remember, if you go this route, you need to delete ALL political comments… not just the ones you disagree with.
Continue to monitor your social posts
Monitoring the comments on your social posts is a big part of managing your online reputation. Most aren’t likely to be political, and more often than not, you’ll probably be dealing with comments that are actually about your business, products, or services.
There is a lot of potentially value that can come from staying on top of your social posts and reviews, maintaining good relationships with your customers, and resolving issues as they come up.
If you need a little help managing your online reputation, Womply has a great app for that. Womply Reputation Management allows businesses to keep track of their online reviews across various platforms all in one place. From your Womply dashboard, you can read and respond to all your reviews, and even set up automated responses if you choose to do so.
Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!