By: Joe Evertz
The evolution of social media, specifically the usage of Facebook, has pushed companies and brands into a digital age where consumers can publically voice their opinions, concerns, and show support for decisions made by brands. It is not surprising that people spend three out of every four minutes of their total social networking time on Facebook, whether that time consists of chatting with friends, looking at brand pages, or reading what others have to say. Regardless of what people are doing on Facebook and other social media websites, it is obvious that people are spending their time journeying through the various offerings that brand pages include. For example, Coca-Cola’s brand page on Facebook received over 2,100 comments on one post when the brand asked fans whether they have ice-cold Cokes in their fridges.
Brands that exist on Facebook must learn to manage the thousands of comments per hour that inflate brand pages every minute of the day. Lowe’s experienced this first-hand back in December when it pulled its advertising from the reality TV show American Muslim as a result of customer complaints. Within hours, Lowe’s had received 28,000 comments on its page responding with hate, racism, and profanity as a result of its actions. The influx of comments grew with such momentum that Lowe’s became unable to control the Facebook users’ contributions in a short amount of time. Normally, the company would allow such a debate to continue, but with a level of control that allowed the debate to remain moderate and preserve the fans’ voice. However, the rapid increase in hateful, and at times violent, comments forced Lowe’s to remove the original post and the 28,000+ comments that accompanied it.
Situations like Lowe’s catastrophe demonstrate the severity of how customers can react to companies’ decisions and tactics. When a segment of the audience mobilizes with such force, brands are forced to act. However, the way in which situations such as Lowe’s occur, and the actions that are undertaken can be prevented or tailored by following certain steps:
- Establish clear commenting guidelines for Facebook
- Ensure guidelines reflect brand values and culture and respond to comments
- Enforce your guidelines and regulate comments that violate your policy
- Be proactive and employ methods to predict situations such as Lowe’s
- Take advice from professionals, such as social media specialists
These five steps can help brands be proactive in regulating mass entries of comments by followers. The establishment of guidelines will help prevent audiences from arguments and ensure moderation amongst comments. Moreover, when brands invest in a high-quality Facebook presence and brand community, it is expected that more followers will comment and generate more activity on the brand page.
While Facebook pages for brands can generate support and engagement with consumers, they can serve as a medium for negative comments and backlash if not monitored constantly and controlled. A brand page should allow consumers to interact with the brand in a way that does not hurt the brand image or damage its community. When managed properly, brand pages are surely an easy method for companies to gain positive exposure.