Facebook introduced Timeline for Fan Pages earlier this year, and along with it – Messages. Fan Pages can now have private conversations with their fans, but only if the fans start the interaction.
Many community managers were very excited about this feature, myself included. It is allows us to move quarrels from the public arena to the private one and try to resolve things without everybody watching. This is, without a doubt, a good thing. However, there are some downsides to having Messages on Fan Pages. Here we go:
Don’t Hide the Positive!
While they’re good for moving the negativity from your page, Messages can remove positive comments as well! I have had members thanking me for something the company did for them or complimenting our workers and their behaviour via private messages. It would have been amazing to have those posts on the Fan Page! Of course, I could have asked people to repeat what they said publicly… but it just didn’t feel right.
Then, there’s all of those messages with a question. People want to know about a certain product, or if the company will appear on a fair and similar questions. I would like those questions to be posted publicly because it gives me an opportunity to provide information other people may be interested in, without it looking like marketing.
One of the most valuable things about the interaction fans have with our page is the fact that their friends see it. The Next Web predicted the problem Messages for Fan Pages might have back in December:
“Facebook socialises each fan’s interactions with a page — sharing likes, shares, comments, and other interactions fans make there, with their friends — which can help raise a page’s visibility. So, more private messages may lead to less public comments.”
FB Messages: Doesn’t Mean We’re Buddies
Sending a message via Facebook is not as formal as sending an email. People are more relaxed, the communication is less uptight and it’s generally a good thing. Until someone goes a bit too far.
A fan was very happy with how I handled something and messaged me to tell me so. I thanked him (as company, not me personally) and he continued to tell me how nice I was and wondered if he could add whoever was behind the account as his Facebook friend.
Looking back, I think this is where I made the mistake. I was, again, trying to be nice, so I said “Unfortunately that would be against the rules, but we will interact via the company Fan Page.” I wished him a nice day. Alas, he was a clever little thing and suggested that I could tell him my name, so way he could find me and add me as a friend himself! I would not be breaking the rules if we did that, he said.
It took several messages until I explained nobody would be adding anybody and I stopped replying. He sent a few more messages, wondering if he could have seen me on a corporate event. Ignoring him was something I did against my nature, but that was the only thing to do at this point.
Still, I’m keeping the Messages
These two issues are not enough to turn off Messages. If you use them too, make sure you:
- Respond in a timely manner. It might be better not to have them if your messages are not being monitored.
- Use testimonials on your website. My company does not have that, but that would be a good place to put all of those nice comments we receive via private messages.
- Work them into your communication plan. Make sure your communication plan includes a section on how to handle fans that get too friendly.
Disclaimer: While I believe it is highly unlikely my overly friendly fan will ever read this post, I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Dear fan, please do not add me on Facebook now that you do know my name. I am spoken for and not looking for new friends. Thank you for your business.