How brands can make their Facebook pages more sociable

This one goes out to all the Community Manager’s out there…

Here is a post on a well-known brand’s Facebook page:

Here’s another example:

Considering the high-profile nature of both companies, it is not surprising to know that they have a huge fanbase on Facebook and all of their updates garner a lot of comments. On the face of it, it all looks very sociable.

However, whilst scaling through these comment threads, I saw the same trend occurring across these two brands’ posts.

The community is talking to the brand, but not talking to each other.

As such, the social aspect of a FB brand page looks like this:

Dialogue is mainly between brand and fans (fan-to-brand)

This is great because one intention of the social media revolution was always to get those scary, monolithic, inward-looking companies to start talking to their fans.

Now this has happened, we see successfully social brands amass large followings on Facebook and in turn producing content that elicits fruitful dialogue between the brand and it’s fans.

However, as brands learn/strive to create that profitable brand community I believe there is more that can be done to make these communities more sociable within Facebook’s limits.

I suggest, that brand’s should be doing more to encourage this kind of dialogue:

Dialogue between brand fans on a brands FB page (fan-to-fan)

At first this looks quite intimidating since the brand is no longer at the centre of the conversation. Except it would be. In every way.

  • The conversation remains within the brand’s page
  • The conversation is pinned to the brand’s content post
  • The conversation occurs only in the brand post’s comment thread

Here’s how a proactive community manager might make this happen:

Some deft community managing changes the direction from fan-to-brand to fan-to-fan

In the example above, the brand voices interjects in the comment thread and stimulates some fan-to-fan conversation .

At the moment, Facebook’s mechanics make it hard to cultivate for fan-to-fan conversation within threads. Currently post commenters having a fan-to-fan conversation have the arduous task of returning to the brand page to continue conversations (maybe this is a good thing for brands?) since they are not alerted if someone mentions them in the comments thread. FB needs to start an ‘@’ name-tagging system on brand pages, much like we’ve seen recently on personal pages.

The benefit of community managers cultivating more fan-to-fan conversation is manifold:

  • Deeper insights stemming from original conversation not just brand generated content/posts
  • Regular commenters that converse between each other would lead to a proper community, not just hit-and-miss one-off commenters
  • Community managing that encourages independent conversation makes the brand a ‘facilitator’ – rather than a passive listener
When these kind of conversations start occurring on Facebook pages, then I think we can really say we have a vibrant (nay, proper) community, rather than the slightly uncurated mass of commenters that tends to currently pass for a brand’s ‘community’.


About jonathanrose

Raconteur. Intellectual. Showerman.
This entry was posted in Social Media and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How brands can make their Facebook pages more sociable

  1. I love this idea – but I think you are right, given Facebook’s current infrastructure its hard to see how threaded conversations between community members would work.

    Forums are still one of the better ways for brands to facilitate this type of community. Social media isn’t so social, eh?

  2. Great post Jonathan,

    We’ve found that this often relies on good community managers and the culture within the company of being genuinely interested in their community. I look at a brand’s Twitter page and check the percentage of Tweets that include an @ address of another user they are talking to. Then I look at the ratio of how much people are talking about the brand compared to how much they are talking about themselves.

    Brands have to find a way to stop shouting at their fans and instead get their fans to talk to each other.

    • Jonny Rose says:

      Thank you for your comment Peter.

      Brands certainly do need to “stop shouting at their fans…get their fans to talk to each other”.

      For me, Twitter is absolutely the best platform for making this a reality and as @Charliesaidthat (above) knows, I have little time for Facebook as a community-building platform. Unfortunately, people continue to champion Facebook as a platform for brands to build a community, when really FB pages are nothing more than digital focus-groups/sounding boards.

      Hopefully, FB will make the necessary tagging changes in good time which will begin to facilitate this vision of a fan-to-fan voice on FB pages.

  3. Do you think we’re getting it right?


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