The Queen's Facebook page could teach businesses a thing or two
For a well-known figure or brand, venturing into the world of social media for the first time can present a whole host of pitfalls. Although it offers them a great chance to interact with fans and customers, it can also provide a platform for their detractors, as the Queen has just discovered.
Well, perhaps not for herself – it seems unlikely she would have had much to do with the establishment of the British Monarchy page on the social networking site. However, whoever has been given the task of looking after the page has certainly found out the internet is not always a friendly place.
More than 150,000 people have “liked” the page since it was set up on Monday, but the site has become a hotbed of political debate with the issue of republicanism, the Falklands and Cornish nationalism all featuring among the comments.
So how has the royal page decided to deal with this? With something of a softly, softly approach, it seems. Although offensive comments have been deleted, a large number of critical ones remain.
Speaking to the Guardian, a spokesman from Buckingham Palace said: “Spamming is a common problem on Facebook. The site has systems in place to report and block spammers and the web team is using the tools available to block offensive comments.”
So is this the right approach to Facebook criticism? In the case of the Queen, yes. The monarchy is unlikely to be abolished because of a few comments on a social networking website, while deleting them could lead to a bigger storm if people feel they are being gagged. Engaging with the posters would only legitimise the comments and besides they are plenty of pro-monarchy supporters willing to fight the Queen’s corner.
The lesson for firms to learn here is not to overreact to online criticism, although in some cases it may be appropriate for them to take a more proactive approach to things. Social networks are a great way for brands to spread their message, but companies have to remember they are a two-way street and, where appropriate, let people have their say.