Two years as a Facebook community manager has taught me a few things about what to do and more importantly what not to do as the public voice of a brand. Not only do you need to grow your fanbase, keep engagement levels up and stay true to brand values, there’s ALL KINDS of wall posts to deal with. The good, the bad and the potentially very ugly…
Throw in the recent Australian standards ruling that companies are responsible for moderating any defamatory or misleading comments and it gets even trickier.
Every brand page is going to be different, but there are a few basic guidelines to follow which can help keep the flow of conversation positive and on brand:
Build a community before you need it
Many brands launch their Facebook page with a major promotion before they have built up a core following. It can be like throwing a party and being inundated with gatecrashers. Take the time to find your groove and build a smaller, but loyal following first. Who is going to be more important in the long run: promotion loyalists or true brand advocates?
If you have a brand page, people will assume it is in fact run by someone from the actual brand. In many cases Facebook community management is outsourced to PR agencies, freelance community managers or bloggers. It’s fine to outsource, just don’t make it obvious. Avoid responding to comments with statements like “we’ll let the team know”. You are the team!
Set the tone
Think about the tone of your page. How formal or informal should it be? Is your brand the kind that uses emoticons or gives *hugs*? Maybe not, but at least drop the corporate speak. Always remember that anything you post is a reflection of your brand. As a general rule, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your CEO to read.
Maintain a dialogue, not monologue. Participate in conversations. Respond to wall comments, good and bad. ‘Like’ other relevant pages. Step in and moderate conversations when needed. Make sure your community knows that you are around and that you care. Don’t just talk about yourself all the time as people soon tire of the hard sell. Consider applying the 80:20 rule and talk explicitly about your brand around 20% of the time. Focus on providing useful and interesting content to win reach.
Mix it up
Post at different times of day and different days of the week. Weekends are less cluttered and in my experience if you’re targeting mums try posting around midday (nap time) or after 8pm once the kids have gone to bed. Mix up your content as well. Polls, links, photos. The more different things you try the sooner you will get a feel for what resonates with your followers.
Don’t just respond to the positive comments
Facebook pages give everyone direct and very public access to brands. Some people are quick to post their opinions, positive and negative, and sometimes highly emotive. Wherever possible acknowledge all comments and resolve issues directly. It’s easy to direct people to more traditional communication channels but there is now an expectation for real-time responses. A well-crafted response to a negative comment often has the power to turn ‘ranters’ into potential brand advocates. Sometimes it’s enough to let people know that they have been heard and that their opinion is valued.
Do not delete!
Think long and hard before pressing ‘delete’ on any comment. Facebook is an open forum and you need to accept the good and the bad comments about your brand. Unless comments clearly violate your house (or federal) rules, leave them be. If you’ve done your job well, your community may very well step in and defend your honour.
What are your golden rules for Facebook community management?