Sunday, May 11, 2014

Turning the Other Cheek on Facebook

As you monitor the comments by fans on your Facebook page, you may swell a bit with pride to constantly see missives praising your business, your products and customer service. Ultimately, however, the pendulum will swing in the other direction - it does hold true that you can't please all the people, all the time. Just your luck, the one person who suffers a negative experience connected to your business - regardless of the situation - may surely take his/her voice to the streets...and Facebook. 

As you maintain your social media presence, it's important to do so in a manner that lets people know there is a human being behind the profile picture you display to the Facebook world. The Facebook page backend does allow you to adjust who can post to your page's wall, photo albums, and message board, but if you are the type who fears backlash and wants to limit consumer opinion, you may wish to step back and evaluate why you have a Facebook page in the first place. 

Limiting a forum for fans to speak their mind makes a powerful statement about the way you handle feedback, good or bad. If somebody is unable to post how they feel about your products and services to your page, do you think they will wonder if your company listens at all? Not only that, blocking any kind of communication from fans keeps the good feedback away, too, so prospective customers won't see how others like you. 

For a company intent on catering to people, it's necessary to listen to the people. So let's say you are browsing your fan page and you come across a thumbs-down notes. Perhaps somebody visited your brick and mortar store and claims to have been treated rudely, or maybe somebody purchased your product, book, or service and was not satisfied. That comment is sticking out there like a stain on your reputation, visible to anybody browsing your page. What do you do? You have a number of options available. 

 1) Delete it. The temptation to change history and remove the comment is always strong. Out of sight, out of mind...or is it? You don't really know how many people will see a bad mark once it's posted, and if you do erase it consider the possible fallout: will people call you on the deletion? Will the original poster retaliate with more negative remarks, not just on your page but elsewhere in spots you can't administrate? While you have the option, removing a bad review should be considered carefully. Weigh the legitimacy of the claim against the poster's intent - if somebody is posting a general "You stink!" without backing it up you may be able to chalk it up to general trouble-making. If specifics about the bad experience are mentioned, it's time to evaluate the complaint and do something about it. 

 2) Ignore it. You could also continue to post and answer other fans as though the complaint doesn't exist it. Of course, that may work as well as deleting the comment. If the fan expects an answer or compensation, you may find he/she doesn't want to be ignored. This could lead to trouble on your fan page as more fans catch wind of the silent treatment, forcing customers to wonder if this is how you truly handle business issues. 

3) Respond privately. One point in your favor is that when somebody posts a negative review on Facebook, it's not done with anonymity. Whereas people can hide their identities on Google reviews or blogs, with Facebook you know who the plaintiff is. Therefore, you can seek to appease the poster with a personal missive offering some kind of compensation (a refund, a freebie, etc.) and hope for the best. A display of personal apology may inspire the poster to retract his/her complaint and keep you a customer. 

4) Respond publicly. Even better, showing not only the plaintiff but everyone subscribed to your page that you heard the remark and intend to make good shows your willingness to listen and heed negative feedback. No person, no company is perfect, but as you work to correct wrongs in productivity and customer service it shows that you are prepared to progress toward perfection, and are willing to take it on the chin once in a while. You could offer the poster some kind of compensation, while at the same time offering your fan base a general discount on products and services. 

Above all, do not ignore poor grades on your company. How you respond to feedback on Facebook creates a powerful image in the mindset of those who check your page for updates. Act professionally, and your fans will treat you as such, even if they are frustrated at times.

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