Deleting texts on FB Messenger is now possible, but should brands do it?

Censoring posts and comments on social media platforms has always been a taboo for brand community managers, but what about in private messaging? With Facebook now allowing sent messages to be deleted on its Messenger service, this is something that brands have to start giving serious thoughts about.

In fact, Facebook Messenger is now allowing users to remove their messages within 10 minutes of sending, joining the ranks of messaging apps like WhatsApp with such a feature. The message will be replaced by text alerting everyone in the conversation the message was removed.

Nonetheless, managing director of Digitas Singapore Rika Sharma said that despite this new addition on Facebook, community managers should not get complacent. She added, "All brand interactions should be treated with the same care as they would if they were posted on a brand's page as despite being a private messaging app, comments can be made public."

Meanwhile, SearchGuru's senior manager of performance marketing Jason Lau said conversations with overly-deleted messages just means that the integrity of the conversation was compromised. "Have you ever gotten a text on WhatsApp only to find out that it was deleted? How does that make you feel? Half-hanging? And the urge to find out what was said is strong."

But there are positives

With that said, the new feature may still be a plus for brands, when used properly.

Carro's group chief marketing officer Manisha Seewal explained that when it comes to private messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Messenger, what is acceptable behaviour among family and friends is not always acceptable for brands.

"In the event an erroneous message is sent out to customers, I would encourage brands to be transparent when they need to delete it. They should share the reason for doing so - for example, incorrect or outdated information. Customers are a lot more forgiving towards brands that own up to their mistakes than those who try to sweep it under the carpet," added Seewal.

SearchGuru's Lau added that nonetheless, the offering was a positive one for brands as they are able to manage some form of damage control if a wrong message has been sent out. Or, take the opportunity to create a time-limited promo code that is specially tailored for the consumer.