The Ugly Truth About Facebook Pages

Ugly Truth About Facebook Pages

Image via Flickr from hoggarazzi

There’s countless examples of companies using Facebook pages successfully to engage they customers, create buzz, grow customer base, and more.  But the ugly truth is that Facebook pages can have a down side. If you’ve followed social media news for a little while, you may have heard of the Nestle vs. Greenpeace story where activists ‘hi-jacked’ Nestle’s Facebook page.

Something similar happened to us and I want to share a few of my observations and recommendations for dealing with it when it happens.

Last week in Lethbridge there was a severe snow storm which took out power to a lot of Lethbridge and made the roads virtually impassible.  To top it off, it was the last week of school and exams and final projects were wrapping up.  At some point in the morning the power went off at the college.  Not long after that, it was decided by senior leadership that the college would close until the next day when power was restored.

Some students had already arrived at the college.  There was some complaining on our Facebook page about the slowness in closing the college.  There was one student who was somewhat rude and complained about power outage as well.

When an organization empowers the public to share their voice, there is bound to be negative or unhappy comments.  That is what truly provides the authenticity.  It’s how an organization responds to this negativity that sets them apart.  One can follow the example of Nestle, which proved to be ineffective, or define another approach.

What did we do? Nothing.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Let me explain.

I noticed that in some of the cases where people were complaining, there were a few of the community members that came to our defense and said things like, “hard for them to get the word out if they have no power” or “There wasn’t a thing called email with I went to LCC and I’m not that old…And yes we all just found out when we got there.”

Our president posted a general message on our page explaining the process they took.  It was informative and relaxed.  Shortly after that post, it appeared that the very upset student removed their post, and posted another comment explaining their frustration and apologizing if anyone took offense.

Recommendations

  • If the negative comment are not defamatory, obscene, or otherwise very inappropriate, do not respond immediately.  Instead let it percolate and see how the community responds on your behalf.
  • If you do need to respond, try to do so in private first to avoid any embarrassment to the poster.
  • Never, never, never respond defensively or with hostility – it will only just explode in your face.
  • Establish guidelines or a policy that will indicate who and how to respond to negativity on your Facebook page and other social networks.
  • Don’t throw all social media activities away if you have a little bump.  You will encounter negativity, don’t let it scare you from continuing.

Have you encountered negativity on social networks? How have you responded to it successfully?

  • uteperkovic

    Great advice, Mike!!

  • Jeff

    Good Common Sense Mike.

    Jeff

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  • Dan B

    Great article Mike! Though I did think the ugly truth was going to be an article on how FB throttles your page posts to only 15% of your opt-in audience, and then charges you a constantly increasing rate of $ in order for your posts to reach the other 85%. That would be ugly. Unless of course you’re Facebook, then it’s genius I guess. Also I noticed that you wrote this post in 2010….