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Recent Facebook changes will force brands to be more open and transparent

I love social media for the way it gives power to the people and forces governments and brands to be more transparent and have more integrity.  Now that everyone has a printing press the truth surfaces more quickly – not always and in all sectors, but there is a clear trend in that direction.  Focusing in on brands and retail the result has been a decline in the importance of marketing and an increase in the importance of delivering a quality product and service.

Getting behind this trend was one of the reasons we invested in Conversocial earlier this year.  When I wrote about our investment I said:

at heart this investment is a bet that people will increasingly insist on engaging with companies on social media

We were happy to make that bet because customer service out in the open on sites like Facebook and Twitter is intrinsically better for consumers and also for brands, so long as they do it well.  It is better for consumers because they know they are more likely to get a response when they raise their issues in public, because they can more easily see whether other people have had the same issue, and because it is easier and more efficient than other channels.  It is better for brands who do this well because good customer service is immediately visible to the world – on top of making one customer happy many more get reassurance that if they have issues they will be treated well.

I am hearing an increasing number of stories of companies with policies of responding faster on social media than they do on phone and email.  This morning in the office we were discussing how the best way to get a quick response from Zoho is to tweet, and here is a similar story about customer service from an airline.

Facebook has recently announced three changes to their site that put more power in the hand of the consumer and make it clearer to brands that embracing social media for customer service (and doing it well) is the best way forward.

  1. Anybody can now post on a fan page, even if they are not a fan.  This removes a barrier to interacting with brands on Facebook and I expect activity to increase as a result.  Interestingly it removes the need for you to ‘like’ a brand before you can leave a negative comment.
  2. Posts on the wall be friends are now highlighted in their own tab.  Comments by friends are much more powerful than those from non-friends (both good and bad).  Previously these were often lost in the high volume of comments on the wall.
  3. Discussion tabs will be removed from Facebook fan pages by the end of October, and their content will be migrated to the wall.  Going forward all customer service conversations will therefore be on the wall, making them more visible and more easily shared.

The hope (both in general and for Conversocial) is that brands and consumers will respond positively to these changes creating a virtuous circle with more people coming to Facebook for customer service, more brands servicing them well, bringing even more people in, and so on.

You can find more detail about the Facebook changes on the Conversocial blog:

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  • http://twitter.com/DustBunnyMafia Dust Bunny Mafia

    I will wait to see this in full effect before forming a full opinion on it. Sounds like a good plan though, we’ll see if it works out for the brands.