Why You Should Never Delete Negative Comments

Transparency.

It’s one of those words that has almost become synonymous with social media. So much so that communicators are starting to get sick of hearing it (re: Ragan.com’s list of the “Top 10 Most Overused Words in Social Media“). However, no matter how “overused” it may be it still has value for companies in the blogosphere.

Transparency gains trust. And trust is one of the most important aspects in relationships with constituents. So how can companies be transparent online? There are many different ways to do so, which include having a designated company blogger, speaking candidly on company policies, and even owning up to corporate missteps. This post focuses on comments; specifically why companies should never delete negative ones.

It’s typical to receive complaints. As the post “Corporate Blogging Do’s and Don’ts” points out, allowing these complaints and then responding to them honestly will cause your company’s credibility to rise. Think about it: a blog with only positive comments praising the company just looks fake. There should be room for both praise and criticism of the company, its products, or even its policies. Also take note that if some complaints keep reoccurring then it’s a sign that there’s a larger problem you need to fix corporately.

In an interview with Ragan’s PR Daily, SAS explained their philosophy behind transparency and commenting. According to Jim Davis, the senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of SAS, blogging is built on trust. He points out that incorrect controversial comments will get corrected by the by the community without intervention. At the same time, however, true controversial comments will gain supporters also voicing their concerns. These are the negative comments companies need to pay attention to; the comments are pointing out problems that need to be fixed.

Posting and responding to negative comments can actually help you gain more customers. According to Research Brief, the Retail Consumer Report from this January, 18% of consumers have turned into loyal customers after receiving responses from retailers to their posted complaints or negative reviews online. Doesn’t seem like a large enough percentage? Just remember: that’s still 18% of customers you would’ve lost without any response. Responding can also promote positive reviews. In the same report, it was found that 33% of disgruntled customers who had received responses later posted positive reviews. Also, 34% eventually deleted the original review.

Finally, how does this all tie into ethics? Look back to the six guidelines presented in the Social Media Code of Ethics from the first post. Numbers 2-5 (welcome criticism, respond to comments quickly and appropriately, be credible and transparent, deal with errors honestly) all relate. Following these guidelines and the suggestions set forth in this post is to act ethically online.

Would You Give Up Your Password for a Job?

Recently, Robert Collins, a Maryland resident applying for a position at the Division of Corrections, was told to give up his facebook password to the potential employer. Here is a short video recorded by the ACLU of Collins giving his own account of the incident.

 

Collins holds that he was informed this information requirement was part of a new policy on social media for the department. However, the spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services denied any policy of the sort when asked by NBC4 in Washington.  Collins holds that he was told the information would be used to check for any sort of gang affiliations or illegal activities. Either way, this case leads to many new questions regarding social media and the job search. Is it ethical for employers to check private information on a social media profile? The American Civil Liberties Union took up his case and said it wasn’t.

Many have heard of employers checking out Facebook profiles before hiring; however this is taking it a step further. With his password the employer could have access not only to his basic profile but also to his private messages with other users. They could see his religious and political beliefs, even his sexual orientation, and base their hiring decision on what he had posted about himself. Employers could essentially base their hiring decision on his personal information and private life instead of his skill level and qualifications. If this practice becomes commonplace, then, in theory, companies could end up with less qualified employees.

How? Well, if it comes down to a hiring decision between a well qualified individual with party pictures on Facebook and a lesser skilled individual with a well-mannered profile then the company may decide on the latter as being the “safer” pick. Unfortunately for company, the former applicant (the one with party pictures) may have been the better employee and could have contributed to more productivity and advancements.

Ethically speaking, is it ok for employers to check anything other than public information? Would you ever give up your Facebook password for a job?