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Are you talking with your Facebook Community, or at them?

It seems like such a no-brainer that social media should be social, yet it's not at all uncommon to find brands who are constantly broadcasting messages to their fans, and at a glance, they look very active, very social. However, upon closer inspection, you will find dozens (if not hundreds, depending on the size of the brand's following) of comments on these posts that go unanswered. You wonder to yourself "Does anyone even read these comments?" Of course, if you get the feeling that a lot of brands are anti-social based on that, you'll be very disappointed by the "Posts by Others" section of the Timeline. For many brands, it's just dozens of posts that go unnoticed every day. It's almost as though some brands don't know that section exists!

Then, there are brands who decide that all of those bothersome posts from their fans sure do clutter up the page, so they just remove the ability for fans to post on anything other than the brand's existing wall posts. To an extent this is understandable. As someone who is responsible for answering the dozens of posts every day that some brands have simply blocked out, I can tell you that it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to keep up with those posts. So, maybe these brands just don't have the constitution or the man-power to read through all of those posts, responding to each and every one, and intend to focus on paying special attention to the comments on their own posts instead? Maybe? ...No? Well, maybe you didn't remove that section for the right reasons, then.

I love doing my brand analysis series on Facebook pages, because they contain actionable insights that anyone could utilize and apply to their own brand. While researching those posts, however, I've been incredibly surprised by just how many brands are broadcasting their messaging to their fans, without really having a conversation. On numerous occasions on a client's Facebook pages, I've been complimented on the fact that the brand actually listens to what the fans say, and responds to their comments and wall posts. If people notice that we put in the extra effort to actually be social, then surely people also notice when brands are anti-social? It would certainly seem that way, otherwise the greatest share of compliments I personally receive from our client's communities probably wouldn't be related to something that I consider one of the most simple aspects of my job, something as basic as acknowledging their comments and carrying on an actual discussion with them.

People can certainly tell the difference between a social brand, and a brand that is going through the motions. Social brands are rewarded and recognized for their efforts, they are complimented by their fans, and by the social industry, on their commitment to really listen, and those fans love that social brands drive results from the feedback they receive directly from customers. For a brand which is just going through the motions, it may be easy to feel like you operate within a vacuum and no one will notice, but people expect more of social brands.

Do you want your fans to talk about how impressed they were after visiting your Facebook page or to share how disappointed they are that no one bothers to read their comments? Even worse, would you prefer they just quietly decide they're not coming back to interact with your brand again, because it's not as though anyone is listening anyway? Take the time to listen to your fans and followers. What you learn will benefit your brand, the experience will benefit your customers, and a good conversation can brighten your day.


What are your thoughts on Engaging vs. Broadcasting? Do you feel let down when your comments are never replied to? Do you feel like you're being talked at more than talked to? What do you believe is the number one failing that separates the truly social brands from those who just go through the motions?

Post by Zachary Chastain
August 06, 2012