Are you one of the 95% of brands killing the Facebook conversation?

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In this series of Smart Insights Best Practice Advice, Danyl Bosomworth of SmartInsights.com shares tips on best practice to get better results from digital marketing. This month Danyl looks at how 95% of Facebook posts are ignored by brands.

On June 20th at LeWeb, Socialbakers introduced a new service, Socially Devoted, which gives an idea of what are good and bad levels of customer service within Facebook.

Here is the worst from the retail category which shows there is still plenty of room for improvement:

The most responsive show how it can be done:

I originally read this post by Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers, in October 2011 about the lack of interaction of brands have on their own Fan pages. Apparently only 5% of wall questions from consumers on brand pages ever receive follow-up interactions from the brand – shocking really! It’s really shooting yourself in the social foot – first it’s plain rude, second the more interactions you have, your brand updates get wider exposure in streams due to the way Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works.

I thought this is worth highlighting since it’s a topic that I’ve read about before, for example, from Conversocial, a UK social CRM software business. Their white paper (here) looked at this issue for retailer brands on Facebook specifically and is well worth perusing if you’re responsible for brand or service quality.

According to the Socialbakers study, only five percent of wall posts on brand pages ever receive answers from brand representatives. Are you really surprised? Probably not, I feel it’s indicative of the gold-rush to ‘get a Fan page on Facebook’ over figuring out why you’re bothering as a brand and so valuing it enough with a strategy, process and ultimately resource allocation.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Surely not responding is equivalent to not enabling comments on your Facebook wall in the first place, certainly from a consumer perspective? Maybe worse given the level of expectation set by creating a Facebook Fan page in the first place. Jan Rezab points out British Airways has disabled comments on their wall, as does Conversocial in regard to River Island.

This fear factor and need for corporate control forces consumers to disengage completely or attempt to comment on marketing posts in order to try and communicate. This is neither good for the brand, or the consumer, see the example from River Island below. Of course, ironically both of these organisations will think they’re ‘active’ by posting generic commercial information on their wall, but it’s treating Facebook as another generic media channel – which is of course another problem…

Not great eh… Like you need reminding, but to hammer the point home, 1 in 6 minutes online is spent within social networks, and to think that volume of users, and the potential reach on Facebook, you know the basic stats: 800m users, and 50% of those users being active everyday, it’s a very *active* network of users forming or maintaining relationships.

The potential then for brands who bothers to interact is huge. To think that brands are so lazy in responding is totally counter-intuitive to the opportunity of being on Facebook in the first place. Socialbakers believe that the response rate to wall posts should be 65%-75% — a threshold not even remotely close to actual. The best in class at the moment are the telecommunications and airline sectors with 26% and 28%, respectively. How about your business?

There are challenges of course for brands. Wall posts can often be a of wall noise of noise for brands , a major obstacle and it needs managing. I can’t imagine all brands are missing the point to such an extent intentionally, so maybe it’s because teams and processes haven’t changed enough to accommodate the requirements or fulfil the opportunity properly?

Our quick take-aways

  • It’s harsh – enable your wall, or get off of Facebook. Blocking user posts defeats the object and further alienates your brand from its consumer base.
  • Always reply, at least try, Facebook is a major, two-way communications channel – plan for that and deal with it.
  • Have a process in place where pro-active checking in on Facebook is a part of at least someones job.
  • Invest the resources and time as you would to support telephone enquiries.
  • Let brand personality shine through. As consumers we feel like with a chirpy person on the phone or checkout, so why not on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use tools, as recommended by Conversocial (of course!), to help improve your ability to properly monitor, workflow and respond to consumers in Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think 0f these guidelines – do you think the brands that restrict comments have good reason for it? We’d love to know.

Check out some of the best in class right here.

Danyl is co-founder of Smart Insights and a digital marketing contractor. His experience spans brand development, direct marketing and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side over the last 12 years.

About Danyl Bosomworth

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