Most Facebook advertisers know that comments are a vital part of their ads.
But they lack a strategic approach to hiding comments on Facebook, deleting them or even banning users from ever leaving comments again.
Comments are a part of your ad and its first impression.
They can, and should, be moderated.
Some comments are clear signals that you should take very seriously and reply to, to solve the issue so it doesn't get worse. Other comments are just offensive rants posted by trolls. These obviously require a different approach.
Let me start by saying it's a thin line that divides moderation from censorship.
And the latter will often only fuel the fire that internet trolls are looking for.
In this article I'll share my strategy for hiding Facebook comments.
I'll explain what happens when you hide a comment on Facebook as well as the important differences between "hiding", "deleting" and "banning".
Finally I'll discuss how to effectively hide comments on Facebook, using both Facebook's built-in moderation features and Sentimently (our software that automatically hides harmful Facebook comments using sentiment analysis).
Let's lay some groundwork first.
When you post content on your Facebook page or run Facebook ads, users can leave comments under these ads. By default every comment that's posted on your ads is publicly visible to anyone who sees the ad.
Facebook page admins and other assigned roles will receive a notification when someone posts a comment on their post or ad. They can then open the comment to reply to it or moderate it, by clicking on the ... icon next to each comment.
The dropdown offers the option to delete, to hide and to report comments.
But should you do that?
Should you hide negative Facebook comments?
That's a never ending debate that is driven by a lot of personal preference, so I can only give you my opinion after running Facebook ads for many years.
I think that you should treat the comment section of your ads as an integral part of the ad. Comments are a part of what the users sees when he or she scrolls past your ad in the feed. So when you put a lot of effort in creating great copy and design, it feels like a waste to just leave the comments be.
And quickly become a mess...
Effectively moderating comments can offer many opportunities to collect customer feedback, to answer valid questions and concerns and to improve your product or service. It can also present direct sale opportunities and thereby increase your conversion.
The other side of the coin is that an unmoderated comment section can get extremely "messy". And that fact alone reflects on the image potential customers form of your business. When they see people's questions unanswered for days, spam links to other people's websites and some offensive gif images, that impacts the advertisers reputation and conversion.
I think we can all agree that it's important to be responsive as a company and adequately moderate comments. On Facebook "moderating" includes deleting, hiding, banning and reporting. Besides replying, that goes without saying.
Let's dive a bit deeper into these options we have at our disposal.
What happens when you delete a comment on Facebook?
When you delete a comment on Facebook, it will be gone.
It won't be visible to the user who posted it, not to his or her friends, not to you and not to others who see your ad in the future. The user who posted the comment can see that it was deleted, by re-visiting the content.
Obviously this can upset people and result in even more harmful comments, because they'll feel silenced by you.
Deleting a comment on Facebook is an irreversible action.
What happens when you hide a comment on Facebook?
When you hide a comment on Facebook, its visibility will be limited.
It will still be visible to the user who posted it, to his or her friends and to you. But not to other who see your ad now or in the future. The user who posted the comment can't see that it was hidden. For him or her it just looks like it's still publicly visible to anyone, so you don't risk upsetting them even more.
Hiding a Facebook comment is an action that can be reversed. You can just click the small unhide link that's displayed on the hidden comment, to make it publicly visible again.
When you've hidden a comment, a new option shows up next to the unhide option; banning a user.
What happens when you ban a user on Facebook?
When you ban a user, he or she is restricted from leaving any future comments on your content. This applies to both Facebook posts and Facebook ads.
Banned users will still be able to see your content, but they will not have the option to leave comments. So, they can deduce they're banned by the fact that they're not able to leave comments anymore.
Banning a user on Facebook can also be reversed by unbanning them from within the People and Pages tab in your Facebook page settings.
You can just select the user in the list of banned users and the unban him or her.
What happens when you give feedback or report a comment on Facebook?
When you see a comment on your own content or someone else's that shouldn't be on the platform, you can report it. This reporting feature is meant for things like racism, copyright infringements or nudity. Doing this has no direct effect on the public visibility of the comment.
Facebook will often follow-up with you about your report a few days later.
Best practices for hiding Facebook comments
There's no one-size-fits-all approach.
Some companies and brands get a lot of harmful comments, some others just have an occasional troll trying to get attention. However there are some best practices I'd like to share in this section regarding hiding (or deleting) Facebook comments.
Personally I mostly choose to hide comments and rarely delete a comment (or ban a user). I'd like the comments under my Facebook posts and ads to be reflective off the average sentiment.
Think about it, from the perspective of a potential customer.
Seeing a Facebook ad with a lot of negative comments make us anxious to click. Especially when the responsiveness of the owner is lacking. We assume it must be a bad product and we know for sure the customer support is bad.
But seeing a Facebook ad with just positive comments makes us suspicious. We quickly assume the owner is censoring and deleting all negative comments, including valid questions and concerns.
Like anything in life, it's all about balance ⚖️
To me adequate moderation means being responsive and helpful, while hiding harmful comments fast.
Hide fast to resolve better
As a Facebook advertiser or page owner, you should be in control of the conversation and more importantly of your reputation and ad performance.
For that reason, it's advised to hide negative comments fast.
This way their visibility is limited to just the user who posted the comment and his or her friends. It allows you to analyse the issue if needed, and formulate a reply at your own pace. Without the whole world watching and getting involved.
Especially when you have an audience in multiple different time zones, it's really important to hide harmful comments fast so they can't do damage when you're not in the office (or sleeping).
You can always unhide comments when the question is answered of the issue is resolved. This is advised instead of leaving the comment hidden, because in the end the number of comments presents social proof.
Your answer to a question in the comments shows you're involved and it might answer the same question for other people.
So the best practice is:
Hide fast, resolve the issue and then unhide.
Avoid deleting Facebook comments without either taking the conversation private or banning the user
Some comments surface valid customer concerns or complaints. But it's not necessary to resolve the comment while the whole world is watching.
Often issues also require sensitive customer information, which is best shared in a private conversation. When you'd like to resolve an issue, it's advised to take the conversation private by replying to the comment publicly asking if the user can send you a private message or creating a support ticket.
This shows publicly that your company takes the issue seriously and replies promptly, but it also allows you to take the conversation private.
If the comment is just plain offensive and there's no valid question or issue that you'd like to resolve, you can delete the comment.
But in that case it's recommended to first hide the comment, then click the ban user link that shows up and finally delete the comment.
That way you make sure that deleting the comment will not result in even more of these comments from an upset user.
So the best practice is:
The correct order is: hide, ban, delete.
How to hide comments on Facebook, using Facebook's built-in moderation tools?
Earlier in this article I've shown how page admins (and other relevant roles) can hide comments, ban users and delete comments. In this section I'd like to share a few more things Facebook page owners and advertisers can do to moderate comments on Facebook.
Visit your Facebook page and open the Settings tab. Scroll down to find the Page Moderation and Profanity Filter setting.
You can choose to disable this filter or enable it at a Medium or Strong level.
This built-in Facebook feature will automatically hide comments that contain profanity words that are often reported by users as being offensive.
Use this feature in addition to the Profanity Filter, to add a "blacklist" of keywords that you would like Facebook to automatically hide from your page.
Most Facebook advertisers use this feature to block a large list of profanity keywords (like this list with 1272 profanity words).
But also to add names of competitors (so comments that contain their names are automatically hidden from your Facebook page) or specific Emojis.
How to hide comments on Facebook, using Sentimently
I was using Facebook's built-in moderation tools, but still had to do quite a bit of manual moderation. Because a blacklist can only catch the words that are on it, can't make single into plural, can't correct for typos and can't judge context.
Next to that I also noticed a lot of dumb GIF images and links to other websites were posted under my ads.
So I decided to build a solution to this problem, by combining Facebook's data with Natural Language Processing (more specifically sentiment analysis).
The result is Sentimently, our smart tool that moderates your Facebook comments 24/7 using our sentiment algorithm.
When you connect it to your Facebook account, it captures all new comments on your posts and ads in realtime. It quickly processes the content of the comment and then performs a number of automated actions that you can enable or disable in the moderation settings.
It can automatically hide offensive comments, so you can reply in private right from within Sentimently or delete them and ban the user from leaving comments again. It can also automatically hide comments that contain images or URL's or comments that contain blacklisted keywords. After deleting a comment it can automatically ban users who posted the comment.
And finally it can automatically hide ALL comments the moment they come in, so you can reply in private and unhide at your own pace and discretion. We call this "Private mode".