There are many ways to approach fan participation on business Facebook pages. I think the only wrong way to do it is to neglect your responsibility for figuring out how you’re going to handle it.
I recently contributed a comment to a blog post writtern by Lindsay Allen (guest posting on Amy Mengel’s blog) entitled “Facebook etiquette: To delete, or not to delete?” Lindsay pointed out two real world situations that might be encountered by a business’s Facebook page administrator.
In the first situation, excited fans of a company repeatedly leaked certain positive information about the company on the company’s Facebook page. Because the company wasn’t ready to discuss this news yet, it promptly deleted all of these fan posts, thereby giving those loyal and actively participating fans a bit of a slap in the face. What is more, the company created the appearance that it was trying to stifle conversation about something that was no longer a secret – not a particularly good image for the company. Lindsay concludes – and I agree – that the company should have recognized the fact that the secret was out, let go of the illusion that they could control this information by deleting posts about it, and stopped deleting those posts. Instead they should have pushed ahead their official announcement about the issue.
In the second situation a disgruntled former Kohl’s employee (everybody’s favorite contributor, right?) posted something sexually suggestive about a current Kohl’s employee. Again, not a very good image for a company to present on its Facebook page. Lindsay concluded – and again, I agree – that Kohls should promptly delete such posts.
In a comment to Lindsay’s blog post, Ron from the software vendor Zend asked for opinions about whether he should allow posts to his company’s Facebook wall that were essentially promotions for other companies. I responded, in part:
[Lindsay] hit the nail on the head when she asked (about the Kohl’s situation) “[W]ould you want to read something like that about a store where you shop?” I think it’s about the flavor and group culture you want to cultivate. Coincidentally, I just visited Gary Vaynerchuk’s Facebook wall and since he’s all about self-promotion – he’s the new guru of self-promotion, IMHO – anything goes on his FB page. Not to my taste: I’m not likely to hang out there! But Gary V’s approach fits his brand. Would I expect that on Zend’s wall? No, I would be put-off and think you guys weren’t reading posts on your page. I would also expect “spam” to be deleted as a courtesy to me and my time. In other words, different content for different communities. But either way you pay a price as well, by setting the tone for conversation and creativity in posts.
(By the way, I respect Gary V as a marketer, and as a force of nature. I just didn’t personally enjoy reading the posts on his Facebook wall.)
Amy, the blog’s primary author, replied with an additional point that I think is significant: even if your Facebook page’s intended community isn’t offended by posts to your wall, other members of the public might be. So be prepared for backlash if you don’t exercise some level of editorial discretion over what winds up posted on your wall.
UPDATE: Dianne Jacob in her Will Write for Food blog recently posted a to-the-point profile of a popular food blogger’s decidedly non-laissez faire approach to moderating blog comments in order to create the type of experience she thinks her readers will enjoy: Blogging Pro Not Afraid to Delete Comments.