Facebook : Unfriendly engagements

The social media giant responds personally to the negative comments it receives to its ‘hard questions’ posts.

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The feature

Facebook’s online ‘Newsroom’ has a blog-like section called ‘Hard Questions’ where the company and influential ‘guests’ present their views on the controversies surrounding the company and social media in general.
Facebook introduced the feature in June 2017 and since then has had posts covering ‘Is Social Media Good or Bad for Democracy?’; ‘Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad For Us?’; ‘Should I be afraid of Face Recognition Technology?’ etc.
The posts receive many critical comments, which Facebook leaves visible and often responds to.

The takeaway

Encountering hostility on a public social channel is one of the biggest risks companies face when they go on social media, and it is worth watching how the king of social media deals with the issue.
Facebook’s ‘Hard Questions’ is another example of a trend we have seen among large corporates – increasingly they are engaging with critics online; or inviting comments in unusual places – see our tip last year on ING for example – with less hesitation about putting their point across.
It may help to keep things civil that the people commenting on ‘Hard Questions’ identify themselves, often with a job title or the company where they work, and at the very least with a hyperlinked name that seemed to lead to Facebook pages of real people.
For example: In response to the article ‘Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us’, co-authored by Facebook’s director of research David Ginsberg, one reader wrote, ‘So the answer, in Facebook’s opinion, to the problem of too much Facebook is MORE engagement with Facebook? A little self-serving don’t you think?’ Many critics took a similar tone. Mr Ginsberg responded in a three-paragraph post, beginning, ‘Thanks for the thoughtful comments above…’  
While this sort of engagement may not change the mind of the person commenting, a large number of such responses could help convince other readers that Facebook is not ‘evil’, one of the reasons why many companies are spending the resources on responding to individual comments.
First published 07 February, 2018
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