How Big Businesses Fail on Facebook
It’s never a good idea to attack your customers

Facebook is clearly a fantastic social media outpost for businesses to interact with the public. Done well, a Facebook campaign can create a warm, community feel around a brand.


But not every foray into this medium has been successful…

Fortunately (for us), the Internet has the capability of freezing moments in time (ie: nothing can truly be deleted anymore!). We can use these moments to learn from the mistakes that major companies have made and avoid making them ourselves.

Here are some of those moments:

Engage, Discuss, but ever Belittle

Nestlé on Facebook

Nestlé had an active social media presence that included a reasonably well liked fan page. Then, someone in their office got wind of the fact that the users were copying, altering and reposting the Nestlé logo on their profiles. Social media fail Nestle

The company’s social media representative took action, posting a message that asked users to refrain from posting altered Nestlé logos. And that’s where the downfall began.

Nestlé posted the following message:

“This page is for fans of Nestlé. Linkspamming, abuse etc will be removed, and repeat offenders will be excluded… we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted.”

The mere suggestion of censorship will inevitably draw the ire of the social media community, and lumping fans who post images in with spammers and abusers was downright offensive.

Worse still, when the community backlash started showing up on the Nestlé page, this is how their in-house “expert” chose to respond:

Comments on Nestle Facebook Page

Therein lies the lesson. Even when things are going poorly for your brand, never take an antagonistic approach to your community. You will immediately create a feeling of ‘us versus them’, and you’ll always be on the wrong end of the battle.

Even if you’re right and you win, you’ll emerge victorious…and alone in the social media wilderness.

Censorship is Not an Option

Tiger Airways’ Facebook Page

Tiger Airways is a Singaporean discount airline that prides itself on providing low airfares while maintaining exceptional customer service. They entered social media with good intentions – to get to know their customers and to engage them in a dialogue with the company.

As much as social media is about interacting with the community, however, it’s also about letting go and letting the community take the message wherever it happens to lead.

In dealing with a negative customer comment, here’s an example of Tiger Airways’ ‘failure to launch’:

Negative Reaction to social media

And here’s how Tiger responded:

Tiger Airways response

Not only did the Tiger people fail to acknowledge the constructive points that the commenter made, they hid the entire comment from the public, marking it as “irrelevant” and pretending as if the customer didn’t exist at all.

Instead of embracing the criticism, acknowledging the privilege that it is to have people spending time talking to you and building it into a positive, Tiger simply hid the negativity. The brand had explicitly told its audience that their opinion was only valued when that opinion praised the brand.

The community was outraged. The fallout was massive and the page had to be locked as a result.

Learn from These Mistakes

Both of the social media failures, above, resulted from a fundamental lack of concern and respect for the members of the brand’s community.

Both Nestlé and Tiger Airways failed to realize that even the most critical feedback can still be beneficial to your business.

Not only do these type of comments provide pinpointed concerns and actionable ways to improve your business, negative comments also provide you a golden opportunity to transform your worst critic into your best friend. When you openly and effectively address his or her concerns, the one time critic will often become your most vocal and loyal fan.

The Final Lesson: Love Thy Customer

All effective Social Media campaigns begin with a genuine adoration for the customer.

Companies must care about the people they are talking to and have fun along with them. Any campaign concerned with giving rather than taking, embracing the crowd rather than ignoring it, will inherently avoid the type of failures exhibited in the two examples above and allow the brand and its community to flourish.

Know of any other Facebook Fails? Or is Facebook Fantastic? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!