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Dealing with Facebook fallout

Social media reputation management

Facebook flame wars – not good for your business!

It seems pretty easy to use Facebook as a business – set up a page, start posting, gain followers. But if you’re not used to publishing, it’s also easy to fall foul of some simple mistakes.

An example in the past few days: a restaurant offered the chance for people to try a rare breed of lamb. How could that possible go wrong? Well…

I do feel sorry for the people behind the Forge and Abbey restaurants. There’s a high-value business with a good concept, and from what I’ve seen of both they’ve managed to execute their values pretty well.

But on social media, they fall down repeatedly because they don’t really understand the medium. Facebook is a two-way conversation and you need to bear that in mind when you post.

Here’s what caused the fuss this time round:

I admit I grind my teeth a bit about the grammar and punctuation (given it’s a high-end restaurant), but read the comments, and weep.

Staying on message

There is a fairly simple error in that post: the message wasn’t clear. “Support a local farmer and help save a rare breed from extinction” is a pretty good tagline.

“Eat these before they vanish”? Not so good.

They’re not the first people to slip up with a poorly thought-out message, and it’s something that’s not always easy to anticipate unless you really think through a post.

And that’s the social media rule: think twice, post once.

But that was only their first mistake.

Compound error

Once the fuss started, the people behind the page came up with a long response, which they then cut-and-pasted to everyone who commented negatively.

This is wrong. People get very upset at a robotic response – and what a waste of time when you could simply post that response as a new post.

They also left the first post up, despite dozens of objections and angry responses to it.

This is also wrong. Leaving the post there encourages others to join in, and hurts your reputation. It also makes it appear you don’t care whether you’ve upset people or not.

When they finally got their message straight, in their explanation, they blame “misinformed comment”.

This is dreadfully wrong. Do not feed the trolls. It’s a mistake that repeats itself on the Facebook page, with unnecessary responses to comments that invite unpleasantness.

How to deal with angry responses

This is more straightforward than you might think. Here’s how I’d have advised them to help themselves on Facebook.

  1. Nullify the argument. Delete the offending post – there’s no point in keeping it on the page. Google loves finding stuff like this. It’s a misstep that damages your reputation. Get rid of it.
  2. Apologise. In a new post, say you’re sorry you offended people with a poorly-worded and ill-considered post. Hold your hands up and take responsibility.
  3. Clarify. In the same post, tell people what the message is: you’ll be supporting a rare breed, helping to save it from oblivion.
  4. Refrain. As in “from responding to criticism publicly with answers that invite further criticism”. It’s a fatal mistake. They get a notification you’ve replied and then come back with more in response.

NACR… now there’s an acronym to remember.

Feeding the flames

It’s easy to find yourself locked into something like this:

Do. Not. Do. This. On. Your. Company’s. Facebook. Page.

What do you think will happen when you name someone’s employer, accuse them of working for evil corporations and call them hypocrites? If the answer is “they’ll see the error of their ways, realise they’ve lost the argument, apologise and stop being mean” then you’re delusional.

If you don’t want their comments (and I can see a number of off-Island people who’ve joined in because it’s always fun to troll) then ban them from your page.

Or should that be “baa” them?

Chips Cheese Gravy Media offers a social media management service which helps make sure you’re not caught wrong-footed on Facebook. We can also help with reputational repair and mitigation if the unexpected does happen. Click here to get in touch with us for more details!


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