95% of Facebook posts ignored by brands

Why are brands killing the Facebook conversation?

June 2012 update – a new service for benchmarking Facebook customer service:

On June 20th at LeWeb, Socialbakers introduced a new service, Socially Devoted, which gives an idea of what are good and bad levels of customer service within Facebook.

Here is the worst from the retail category which shows there is still plenty of room for improvement:

The most responsive show how it can be done:

I originally read this post by Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers, in October 2011 about the lack of interaction of brands have on their own Fan pages. Apparently only 5% of wall questions from consumers on brand pages ever receive follow-up interactions from the brand – shocking really! It’s really shooting yourself in the social foot – first it’s plain rude, second the more interactions you have, your brand updates get wider exposure in streams due to the way Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works.

I thought this is worth highlighting since it’s a topic that I’ve read about before, for example, from Conversocial, a UK social CRM software business. Their white paper (here and embedded at the bottom of this post) looked at this issue for retailer brands on Facebook specifically and is well worth perusing if you’re responsible for brand or service quality.

According to the Socialbakers study, only five percent of wall posts on brand pages ever receive answers from brand representatives. Are you really surprised? Probably not, I feel it’s indicative of the gold-rush to ‘get a Fan page on Facebook’ over figuring out why you’re bothering as a brand and so valuing it enough with a strategy, process and ultimately resource allocation.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Surely not responding is equivalent to not enabling comments on your Facebook wall in the first place, certainly from a consumer perspective? Maybe worse given the level of expectation set by creating a Facebook Fan page in the first place. Jan Rezab points out British Airways has disabled comments on their wall, as does Conversocial in regard to River Island.

This fear factor and need for corporate control forces consumers to disengage completely or attempt to comment on marketing posts in order to try and communicate. This is neither good for the brand, or the consumer, see the example from River Island below. Of course, ironically both of these organisations will think they’re ‘active’ by posting generic commercial information on their wall, but it’s treating Facebook as another generic media channel – which is of course another problem…

Where's River Island beyond the promotional message?

Not great eh… Like you need reminding, but to hammer the point home, 1 in 6 minutes online is spent within social networks, and to think that volume of users, and the potential reach on Facebook, you know the basic stats: 800m users, and 50% of those users being active everyday, it’s a very *active* network of users forming or maintaining relationships.

The potential then for brands who bothers to interact is huge. To think that brands are so lazy in responding is totally counter-intuitive to the opportunity of being on Facebook in the first place. Socialbakers believe that the response rate to wall posts should be 65%-75% — a threshold not even remotely close to actual. The best in class at the moment are the telecommunications and airline sectors with 26% and 28%, respectively. How about your business?

There are challenges of course for brands. Wall posts can often be a of wall noise of noise for brands , a major obstacle and it needs managing. I can’t imagine all brands are missing the point to such an extent intentionally, so maybe it’s because teams and processes haven’t changed enough to accommodate the requirements or fulfil the opportunity properly?

Our quick take-aways

  • It’s harsh – enable your wall, or get off of Facebook. Blocking user posts defeats the object and further alienates your brand from its consumer base
  • Always reply, at least try, Facebook is a major, two-way communications channel – plan for that and deal with it
  • Have a process in place where pro-active checking in on Facebook is a part of at least someones job
  • Invest the resources and time as you would to support telephone enquiries
  • Let brand personality shine through. As consumers we feel like with a chirpy person on the phone or checkout, so why not on Facebook and Twitter
  • Use tools, as recommended by Conversocial (of course!), to help improve your ability to properly monitor, workflow and respond to consumers in Facebook and Twitter

What do you think 0f these guidelines – do you think the brands that restrict comments have good reason for it? We’d love to know.

Check out some of the best in class right here.

  • http://www.musicademy.com/blog Marie Page

    Great article Danyl. I’d literally just finished writing a blog post about the appalling lack of fan engagement in my own industry when this popped into my Twitter feed.

    The new “Talking about this” widget on the left of the fan page makes it simple for brands to track their percentage engagement and also to benchmark their competitors and other industry pages. Here are the results of 10 minutes of research I did in my industry http://www.musicademy.com/2011/10/fans-are-vanity-engagement-is-sanity/

    Of course even high engagement levels are not necessarily good it the engagement is along the lines of the River Island example.

    I’m really fed up that brands are using Facebook as yet another broadcast medium. It offers so much more. And with the Edgerank algorithm as it is, you simply won’t get seen if your fans are not engaging.

  • http://johnhy.de/ John Hyde

    Why are companies not doing these simple and obvious things ? It’s like installing a phone and having no-one to answer it – or opening a new branch and forgetting to find staff.

    Here is an example from NZ: facebook.com/persilnz. Persil are running paid ads that take you to a competition. People have been struggling for over a week to enter the competition and Persil answer today. People are asking simple questions and Persil are replying several days after.

    Maybe these are just symptoms of a bigger underlying problem: companies don’t know why they are on Facebook at all.

    Companies are on social meejah because “everyone else is”. Maybe the marketing boss read Seth Godin’s book about how on July 17 2004 everyone stopped watching TV and started to “engage” with brands using these new web 2.0 things.

    Martin Weigel – dutch adman – slams this novo-babble with some interesting facts and stats: Fashionable Yet Bankrupt

    And the Ad Contrarian has been pooh-poohing Facebook since 1965.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jeffmclfc Jeff McCarthy

    Excellent post Danyl. Agree with much of what you’ve said and the fear and control factors you’ve suggested certainly tie in with the work I’ve done on the impact of social network sites & social media. Here issues included things such as: Control (of conversations & brand), a lack of engagement and openness to name but some.

    Much of this appears to stem from a lack of a genuine strategy or understanding of what could and should be done, of the customer base, of the nature of the conversation, plus a desire in some circles to see immediate return – and not bothering if they don’t get it etc etc.

    As Marie says, too much is simply used to replicate existing broadcast media platforms.

    The really interesting thing though, is if brands facilitate the discussion then the fans/followers etc will ultimately begin to generate the majority of content themselves. Ultimately creating tremendous community value and plenty of co-creation ideas. Brands simply need to stimulate this on some level and not sitting back – or responding to actively and protectively.

  • http://www.smartinsights.com Danyl

    Thanks all for your comments. I’m glad it’s not just me that is staggered by these stats, and even more so the River Island approach we see here that plain ignores the consumer.

    I like your “likes are vanity, engagement is sanity” comment in the blog post, Marie :-) I believe that (as Jeff and John are both alluding to in his comment) you have to know why you’re on there, engagement KPI’s are all well and good but is Facebook driving a result that impacts the bottom line? Sales, leads, traffic, happier customers. Important to know “why” you’re engaging as I believe this would help brands to stop, think and commit the resources, targets create a focus and align thinking.

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