Life was easy before social media. Your conversations with clients either stayed behind office doors, on the phone or a paper trail. Then email came into the picture with forwarding options and now Facebook (dare I say it?) with commenting on brand pages.

Whether you’re executing a highly strategized social media plan packed with marketable content or simply testing the waters by creating a static Facebook page to secure a piece of online real estate for future use, allowing comments on your brand page comes into question.

If you’re questioning whether or not to allow comments on your page, we’ve laid out the options:

  1. You can set up a Facebook page which allows only administrator comments, creating a broadcast channel or billboard website that lacks true engagement.
  2. Or you can allow people to post what they please and engage with them through continuous monitoring.

 

Either way, we advise taking a leap off the one-way communication bridge and look at the remedies to the benefits of allowing comments as well as solutions to those excuses why you haven’t pulled out your bungee cord.

 

Reasons why most organizations shrug off commenting:

“We’re not ready to use social media right now. Just set up the page to secure a piece of online real estate.”

Having a static page doesn’t really stop the ability for users to make comments in social media. For one, they can still mention your brand in comments that they post on their own wall, so by not allowing comments, you’re not really shielding your brand from potential negative posts. Plus, you’re sending your audience a message that you don’t want their feedback, which could potentially tarnish your brand. (Oh, and see the next topic below on that one.)

If you’ve created a brand page to simply secure a piece of online real estate, there’s no need to publish it. You can keep the page hidden (option available in the settings) until you’re ready to fully engage. If you’re afraid that another entity will snag your username,  fill out Facebook’s username IP infringement form. They’re very aware of intellectual property infringement on Page names.

“We’re worried about negative comments, and don’t want to have to defend our organization day in and day out.”

Unfortunately, you can’t stop people from talking about your organization. With a tool like Facebook, you can take control of the discussion. You have the ability to moderate, delete off-topic comments and take conversations off the public feed – none of which you can do if the comments are posted elsewhere and not on your page.

“We don’t know how to respond to every comment.”

As with each press release or advertisement, a distinct voice and method of writing allows you to engage with your audience in a way that accurately represents your  brand. Identify the difference between questions, requests for advice, frustration, conversations that need managing and complaints. Then use that “tone of voice” in each response, with respect to each comment.

The real lesson here is having administrator guidelines up front, so that in the lightening-quick world of social media, you can make the appropriate response quickly by following the guidelines you’ve set for yourself.

“We don’t have the time to monitor every inappropriate comment.”

As the administrator of an online community for your organization, you have a responsibility to protect your brand and other Facebook fans from offensive posts. Simply create and post a set of ‘engagement rules’ (on a separate tab) that clarify your policy on removing offensive, illegal or defamatory content. It is the most diplomatic way to maintain a clean page without having to explain your policy over and over and over again.

Facebook also provides functions to blocklist profanity and report those spammers and policy abusers.

 

Reasons why you should always allow commenting:

Productive, Marketable Feedback

Creating a community and open forum for customers and fans to share experiences and provide feedback is extremely helpful. You have an opportunity aggregate and prioritize that data based on its popularity online, making it just as effective as focus groups and surveys.

Voluntary Advocates

Audiences that engage with you online and offline will make their way to your page, share your content, respond to your posts and then unknowingly entice their friends to do the same because their activity is displayed in their feed. They will inevitably become brand advocates as a result of their positive experience online.

Insight into Your Customer

Allowing comments also opens the floodgates to analytics. Once you’ve attracted a following, being able to apply those engagement insights provided by Facebook will help you better position messages in future marketing collateral offline.

Long-Term Brand Building

Having an open line of communication for your fans builds brand awareness, an internal culture, enhanced customer service and customer retention and acquisition. Most of all, respect between you and your audiences. The fact that you accept criticism and allow debate tells your audience that you’re transparent and community-minded. People will want to share your brand.

If you’ve made up your mind about keeping the comment function off or if you’re still debating whether or not to jump into the deep end of social media, take a look at Twitter – there’s a lot happening for branded pages now there too.

 

You can link to your website, broadcast information and track activity with a few clicks. It’s simple to set up and maintain. While people can mention you their own posts, they cannot affect your profile. To keep up with mentions of your organization, just do a simple search.

 

No matter the outlet, social media strives to be a forum for engagement. Whether or not your organization is ready to engage with your fans and critics publicly, it is something you must consider prior to accessing any communication tool.