How to play nice in the [BIG] Facebook sandboxBy Paige Holden • Jan 12th, 2012 • Category: FEATURED STORIES, Social Media Marketing
Kid-tested social media manners for grown ups
By now it’s probably safe to say that – like it or not – most everyone has had some experience with Facebook.
I’d even go as far as to say that a lot of the relocation and service industry businesses interested in the popular social networking site are pretty clear on how to set up pages and find some fans.
If this is not the case, then there are numerous marketing and media blogs, social networking experts, and experienced community managers in both the domestic or intentional moving and storage or corporate relocation service industries out there who do a great job of detailing the nuts and bolts of the site and provide useful insights on how to cultivate fans.
If you have already set up your Facebook page and started building a community, what’s next? After following Boners BBQ’s recent … well, ere, … boner and observing similar social media faux pas that are popping up everywhere in our industry, it dawned on me that appropriate engagement on the site is still an Achilles heel for businesses and consumers alike.
With more than 800 millions subscribers from all different walks of life and industry, it’s critical that ALL users – including relocating consumers, corporate clients, and companies that provide moving products and transportation services – learn how to play nice in the Facebook sandbox:
Keep it classy. I know that Boners BBQ is an edgy brand, but you can be rough around the edges without resorting to bad language, name-calling and bullying. In a customer service exchange, it is very easy for both the customer and the business to lose their cool. Customers who dial back their anger have a better chance of getting the help they need and businesses that remain calm are more likely to diffuse the situation and present themselves well to other viewers.
Watch your tone. A lot of email and social media skirmishes start because of misinterpreted tone. Never assume right away that someone is being combative. If you need clarification, just ask for it! Anyone responsible for managing a Facebook page (or corporate newsletter, Linkedin profile, company blog, or Twitter account) must be able to write well enough to convey the right message AND tone. Remember … observing the Golden Rule usually works well in all personal and professional social networks!
Respect privacy. Facebook users don’t always think about what they are posting. Businesses active in public user groups or community platforms should never give customers a false sense of security by asking them to post personal information, including order numbers, addresses, phone numbers etc. publicly. Conversely, customers should know better than to share identifiable information in a Facebook thread.
Facebook is not a weapon. People who use Facebook and other social media sites as weapons to bully companies are tarnishing the medium for everyone else who uses it wisely. If you don’t give companies a chance to fix the problem before blasting them, where is the incentive for them to go the extra mile for you or anyone else? If you have a rational complaint and you have tried other channels then, by all means, take it to Facebook. Present your argument by clearly stating your problem and proposing a solution. If the company doesn’t treat you with the same amount of respect then they are only hurting their brand…publicly.
Be prepared for community involvement. Customers who post comments on a brand page wall, must prepared to hear back from the company, as well as fans interested in or affected by the discussion. Companies that have engaged fans who are passionate enough to defend them are lucky, but it is important to monitor for inflammatory comments. Boners BBQ is a perfect example of “fans gone wild”. The restaurant should have asked their community to quiet down before the public exchanges got so out of hand.
Do note, however, that there is a very fine line between kindly asking a fan to step down and alienating them, so page managers should use their best judgment and jump in sparingly. Remember the Golden Rule …
Be a conscious liker. When you “like” a rude comment, you are essentially endorsing it publicly. If you wouldn’t post the comment yourself, then don’t hit the like button. Boners BBQ was caught liking some very nasty fan comments, which only added more fuel to the fire.
Facebook pages are not a controlled marketing medium. They are sponsored forums for discussions about a brand. Deleting negative comments will only aggravate posters, who will likely just re-post the comment on another site. Some posts will feel like a punch to the gut, but it is better they happen on your page, where you can address them among your fans, then somewhere else. Social media can be messy – particularly for those who don't understand the community rules for playing in the sandbox. Brands that cannot accept this reality are probably not ready to have a Facebook page.
As brands and customers continue to interact online, I am sure there will be more examples of both good and bad behavior. But, the takeaway will always be the same. Successful engagement in any forum boils down to respect – respect for yourself, respect for your brand and respect for one another.
Paige Holden is Director of Communications for Holman Moving Systems, a full-service agent for United Van Lines, and XONEX Relocation, an international 3rd Party relocation services management company.
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