Learning to engage consumers on Facebook involves a study in online behavior with a steep learning curve. The potential for pitfalls are prevalent, so many businesses simply choose to dictate content and not directly engage consumers at all. Others, however, are engaging their consumers personally -- some with success, though others are struggling. The key is to understand online consumer behavior and form your strategies accordingly.
With that in mind, below are threads of two brands' consumer interactions on Facebook: one that got it right (Home Depot) and one that still has a way to go (JetBlue). These conversations demonstrate what works and what doesn't, and serve as strong examples for how you can fashion your Facebook interactions based on online behavior.
Positive interaction: Home Depot
Poster X had multiple bad experiences with Home Depot's delivery service, and took to the company's Facebook page to air out her frustrations. Home Depot responded with a personal touch, addressed all complaints appropriately and was able to close the conversation with the customer satisfied.
1. The customer complaint:
This is a major customer complaint, and the poster even threatens to go to the competition -- whom she then mentioned by name, in all caps, directly on Home Depot's page. She is, however, still showing brand moderate behaviors, and the issue can still be successfully resolved.
2. Home Depot's response:
Home Depot provides a solid first response, speaking in a consolatory tone that personalizes the conversation and humanizes the brand. It addresses the poster by her first name and provides her with useful information. The post ends with the name of the Home Depot employee who crafted it, which is another nice touch. By asking for the consumer's direct contact information, it actively sought to bring her out from the cold and take the conversation offline.
3. The customer continues to push:
In this specific case, the personalization backfired a bit, providing a target for a tart response, and a continued push from the customer.
4. Home Depot vamps for time:
In this effective post, Home Depot doesn't take the bait for an argument, nor does it take a defensive stance. It simply takes the information given and uses it to buy some time to research and resolve the complaint.
5. Another customer joins the fray:
Negative posts on a page almost always attract other negative posters, adding fuel to the fire. This is typical behavior.
6. Home Depot closes the conversation:
Home Depot finishes the conversation by employing a strong "two birds, one stone" approach. Answering both posters by name was smart. Bringing in the employee who initially handled Poster X's complaint also worked, and Home Depot did an excellent job in closing the conversation.
Home Depot Conclusion
In handling these customer exchanges, Home Depot showed it had a solid strategy and understanding of posters' needs and behaviors. The company was able to engage the customers in a personal and effective manner that led to a closing of the conversation. Some key takeaways include:
- Home Depot showed they understand their posters and are able to engage them effectively.
- When and how to move the conversation offline -- and how to effectively write a post that allows for it -- is an important decision companies must make in threads such as these, and Home Depot managed that decision perfectly.
- Most importantly, Home Depot got the last word, which is imperative in these posts, as you don't just start a thread, you finish it.
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