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Yeah, you might think this controversial headline will get me some likes and tweets (well, you bet it will!), but the matter of fact is, that the biggest mistake that marketers on Facebook make is indeed ignorance.

Let me take a few minutes to explain why I think that...

Brands don`t only ignore their fans, they ignore their presence

We still find many brands in the world that are not in control of their Facebook presence. Nintendo, Lego, and many others have millions of Facebook fans today, and even though they could take full control of these Facebook communities, they are not moving forward.

Is this ignorance? Is this a corporate process (claiming your Facebook brand page takes approximately two to three days)? 

We did some research across the 50.000 brand Facebook pages that we analyse and monitor, and figured that only roughly about 5% of brand pages respond to fan questions on their walls.

But the worst thing about that is, that if we only look at pages that respond at least 50 or 60% of their fan questions, you get to a number which is significantly lower (1 - 2%).

These findings are backed up by a recent survey, showing that UK retailers are unresponsive when it comes to answering questions via social media.

So the issue here is that there is no communication. Social media communication is primarily about a dialogue between a brand and its fans, but the problem is that companies often try to change this and turn this into a monologue.

There are still many Facebook fan pages, that have simply closed their fan pages to user comments (can you believe it?). Still about one in five brand pages have beenr manually closed, which is amazing.

Reparation is on the way!

But hope is here, American telecom operator AT&T has taken the social media dialogue seriously. Not only does the company reply to its fans on Facebook, but to more than 90% of the questions, and almost all of them are answered within 30 minutes (even if it is at night!).

This means AT&T has an around the clock non-stop customer care scheduled around Facebook, which is amazing. It is one of the first companies to it that well, and I hope others will follow!

What should you do?

Well for first, go to your company / agency / brand, tell your colleagues that the way you`ve been doing it is great, but it is a monologue, and its time to start a dialogue!

I know it will take more time, and I know it will be more difficult to coordinate across multiple departments, but the result will definitely be worth it.

You probably answer customer care questions over the phone, so why shouldn`t you on Facebook? 

Jan Rezab

Published 13 April, 2011 by Jan Rezab

Jan Rezab is CEO at Candytech & Socialbakers and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

8 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Jenni

Very true, we make a point of holding regular Facebook discussions with our fans as well as posting varying types of content and responding to questions. Otherwise your page may as well be an RSS feed with some pictures.

over 5 years ago

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mehdi

There tends to be a problem because large companies are quite static and anything that requires immediate answers back needs a large investment in manpower to achieve it.

Dedicated social media team with integrated compliance team too. I dont see this happening quite yet.

over 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

So many companies think, "We have a Facebook page set up! Awesome. Moving on." But that is not how it works. In order to really use social media, you have to talk to your network! Connecting with individual consumers humanizes the brand and really boosts trust and engagement.

over 5 years ago

Peter Gould

Peter Gould, Senior PPC Analyst at Epiphany

Great post and some great research Jan. I really am surprised the response rates are that low! I know the majority of pages don't respond to all comments their fans make, but for it to only be 5% that reply at all is pretty shocking!

As Nick rightly says, so many of these brands need to realise that a social media presence, whether that be on Facebook or Twitter as the main two areas, is a two-way street.

It's like on Twitter, where you see so many corporate accounts with thousands of followers, who are all trying to engage with the brand/company, but barely any Twitter activity on the account (if any at all). Why have that presence in the first place, if you're not going to use it to its full potential? It's more likely to do harm to the brand being there than not being there at all.

over 5 years ago

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Dave Link

The only way to avoid this type of gap in service and response is to have a truly collaborative team from multiple departments - marketing, customer service, public relations, etc.

Even if those members are only on-call during a normal 9 to 5 day, having them available helps to avoid that delay in response that comes with larger, corporate social media presence by having specialists at the ready when questions arise. It's amazing what a team of just three or four people are able to accomplish with this type of approach.

over 5 years ago

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Luke Knight

It amazes me that big brands are still ignoring the fact that Facebook is a community where people engage and ask questions. Having a facebook page and giving no customer service response is like giving customers a phone number and refusing to answer...

I do believe that gradually more and more brands are accepting this need for dialogue and we'll begin to see better Facebook communication by brands as the days go by... Hopefully anyway!

over 5 years ago

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Ben K.

Nice post! I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised at the 5% response rate. A lot of companies and brands do not really know how to engage, let alone respond to their followers.
I have to agree with Peter, great research! Thanks.

over 5 years ago

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Carla B

As many of you have said, Facebook is a community - its essential for a brand to engage with that if they want to build meaningful relationships with their consumers.

over 5 years ago

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William King

Many brands are taking this media for publicity only. And by their fan pages they just focus on increasing their fans and the promotion of their brand. But this can not increase their sale and trust. What is important is to build relation with fans by communication. Try to talk with the individual as more as you can. This will bring you fan's friend too on your page. Tell about the offers and benefits to increase your sale. Never hesitate to contact them if they have any complain. But response more quickly to person who have complain, and tell them you will solve this sooner. Win their trust, let them believe that you are working for them not to just earn money.

over 5 years ago

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Rushana

I think that big brands like Nintendo, Lego, etc wouldn't need Facebook fans' questions answered. I don't think people joining these groups (containing some 2 mln fans) hoping that someone will get back to them.
It's of a significant importance when it comes down to smaller companies/brands, where firms really care about retaining their current customers and winning the new ones. They live on personal relationships with their customers.
I'm sure if you ask Lego's marketing director, they wouldn't care if their fans' questions being answered. They are successful (and most likely will remain so) without being pro-active on Facebook.

So, if there is no point in doing the exercise - why do it?

over 5 years ago

Peter Gould

Peter Gould, Senior PPC Analyst at Epiphany

@Rushana - I do see where you're coming from in terms of the fact that huge brands like Nintendo and Lego don't really 'need' to do anything with these fans on Facebook as their offline brand presence is so strong already.

But that begs the question, why even be on Facebook in the first place then if they don't really care or need that presence? It may be true that the majority of 2m fans don't expect the brands to come back to them, but you can guarantee that some will. Be ignoring those loyal or potential customers, surely they're more likely to be doing their brand's reputation damage, not just on Facebook, but in all areas of their business? I know if a company or brand showed me any form of rudeness or arrogance in whatever medium we were engaging, it would give me a negative impression of that brand overall.

Even if a brand doesn't have the internal resource to actively engage with every comment made on its page, that resource of users could be so potentially valuable to them. I just wrote a blog talking about the potential of the new Facebook questions for brands (http://www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk/blog/facebook-questions-whats-that-all-about-then/) - imagine if some of these brands started asking questions to their fans and harnessing some invaluable opinions from them? You can't tell me that this wouldn't be a valuable (and extremely cheap!) benefit of having an active Facebook presence? I just think a few brands aren't seeing the bigger picture here yet.

over 5 years ago

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Alicia Holbrook

These are truly terrible statistics but it serves to highlight that many companies still have little idea about how to utilise social media. Unless you task a dedicated team to manage the varying social media platforms there's little point in wasting your own time setting up a page and even worse, wasting your customer's time in posting comments that will never be answered. If someone speaks to you, it's rude not to honour them with a reply.

over 5 years ago

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