By: Allie Herzog If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you're probably aware that we here at Likeable are firm believers in the "respond to every comment/never delete any comment" mantra. What you may not know is that there ARE times when removing comments is acceptable and even recommended. Several big brand Facebook pages feature a House Rules section or some other sort of disclosure. This is a great way to ensure that your page is not only an open and interactive community of engaged fans but also a welcoming, non-discriminatory and spam-free place! Below are a few reasons why you should consider adding some rules to your Facebook page as well as a few examples of brands that have done it right.
1) To keep your community spam-free. In a perfect world people would only leave comments on our pages about how wonderful our brand/product/service is. In the real world we get happy people, angry people, irate customers, crazies and everything in between. Sometimes we even get those random and completely irrelevant (if human) posts that say "buy my new electric toothbrush" or "watch my video". Unless your page is for electric toothbrushes or porn - this is probably spam. Removing blatant spam content from your Facebook wall is completely OK and makes room for the relevant stuff, both good and bad. Letting your community know that you reserve the right to remove this type of content is always advisable.
2) To keep from offending anyone. Your brands Facebook page is essentially a reflection of your brand and your people. If someone posts something offensive on your wall, it only takes a second for the public to unleash their outrage all over your page, even if you weren't the poster. Avoid a sticky situation my disclosing to your fans that you WILL remove any offensive, discriminatory, racist, political, religious, etc. post.
3) To keep you out of legal trouble! Sure we believe in transparency, but one lesson I've learned from working with big companies is that not every legal department does. As much as we want to be transparent! And share! And discuss! not every issue is up for public debate. Make sure you know what is and isn't confidential before not only posting about it but also commenting on it if a fan brings it up. This can save you a real potential headache and maybe even a lawsuit.
Twizzlers, which is owned by Hershey, has a pretty complete disclosure posted on their page. Among other things, they make reference to removing any comments that reveals the full name of their employees. Protecting your company, your fans AND your employees makes Twizzlers a brand to respect.
Coca-Cola has been widely written about for their comprehensive and public social media policy. They have a section on their company website dedicated to their social media principles and have taken a clear stance on what is and isn't tolerated on their page. It is clear from their House Rules that fans are encouraged and welcome to post comments, photo and video, but they caution against any irrelevant or inappropriate material. Their disclosure gives them an open forum to remove content that doesn't pertain to their brand.
AT&T U-Verse encourages open and honest conversation but stress that they have their own responsibility to take control of the conversation if necessary to meet their own principles. Also, they post their hours of page management so that fans to the page have a clear expectation of when they will be taken care of.
Does your Facebook page have a House Rules section? If not, are you thinking about adding one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!