It’s How You Say It

Facebook doesn’t lack for sad, orphaned pages. People move on. Or they give it up for Lent, or any number of reasons. Businesses often leave pages behind as well, or appear to have done so thanks to very little interaction.

Let’s not rehash the “don’t ignore your customers” warning, as that message has been pretty much perma-stamped across our collective consciousness. I hope everyone understands that if you run a Facebook page for your business, you need to check it — often — and respond to inquiries, comments, compliments and complaints — as soon as possible.

Rather, let’s talk about the tone and tenor of those responses. Are you typing in the written equivalent of “Thank you for calling. We value your call. All calls are answered in the order received. We estimate your hold time to be 27 minutes.”? It’s easy to find out if you are: Just look at the response right below yours. If it’s a withering condemnation of your ability to interact, then chances are you’ve missed an opportunity to engage, or re-engage, with a customer.

That said, don’t veer over into artificial empathy. Being told, “you’ve been heard” is sometimes just as annoying as being ignored. People know when they’re being condescended to. Verbalize your intent to fix the problem if it’s a complaint, and be gracious and grateful if you’re being complimented.

The whole point of social media is interaction. If you’ve promoted a one-day sale on your Facebook page, and suddenly you’re flooded with comments from people saying that your shelves were bare, apologize for being short of merchandise. Make it up to them somehow. If they’re leaving rave reviews, thank them and maybe even send them a coupon. Then repost like crazy so more people can find out how nifty you are.

Never forget that even though you’re typing into a computer screen, you’re still having a conversation. Repeat your comment out loud before hitting “send,” and see if these are words you’d actually say to someone sitting across from you. If not, edit your remarks until 1) they sound like you, and 2) they actually say something. It’ll pay off more quickly than you can imagine.