Today, Facebook announced a new way for brands to communicate with their audience via Facebook Messenger. In the past, a Page could not directly message a person without the person having messaged them first. Back in 2013 I wrote about brands resolving public customer service complaints privately. Until now, the best way to do that was to ask the writer to send the Page a private message or an email with their contact information (with the idea that most people don’t want to publicly list their contact info, so they’d be more likely to go offline). But now, Facebook’s new update gives the Page the option to respond to a public comment or post with a private message.
By eliminating the initial request for the customer to directly message the Page, community managers can now manage customer service issues more efficiently than ever before. So that the rest of the public knows that the Page was responsive to the request, the comment shows a note that the business responded privately. This is good accountability for lazy Page managers who may have abused this feature by letting its public think it was responding when it was actually ignoring.
However, Page managers should not use this feature as a way to be lax with their response. Even though the general public can’t see your reply, we’ve all seen the dangers of a screenshot – everything private can quickly be made public, and even go viral. Community managers should reply to the customer in the same professional manner and tone as they would publicly, remaining helpful and non-combative.
Another faux pas that has potential to occur, is a Page that only publicly responds to positive comments, and privately responds to negative ones. Your audience will begin to notice if all of your happy customers get replies they can see, and all of your disgruntled customers get a private message – content unknown. To battle this, community managers have a few options.
- Respond to some positive comments privately instead of publicly
(ex: Private | “Alicia, we wanted to thank you for your sweet note by sending you this personalized promo code for 20% off your next order with us. It never expires, so stop back by whenever you want!”)
- Respond to some negative comments publicly instead of privately
(ex: Public | “Andrew, we have forwarded your message on to the store manager in Greenville, Ohio, and will speak to the staff about their unsatisfactory level of service during your visit.”)
- Have a list of “canned” (but still personal!) responses for negative commenters whom you are also messaging privately
(ex. Public | “John, this is not the experience we want you to have with Company A. We’ve sent you a direct message requesting your order number so that we can look into this for you.”)
Choose which option best fits your community management workflow and brand voice. By being consistent in your response strategy for positive, neutral and negative comments, your Page will come across as being more authentic and sincere. Just as there are conversations we’d like to have with our friends one-on-one, and those we’re open to having in a group setting, your Page (arguably the best personification of your company next to employees), should engage no differently.
Do you see any potential pitfalls with this new Pages Messaging feature? What are some advantages I didn’t identify? Tell me in the comments below!