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Facebook Rants, and How To Deal With Them
Two things most people love are a bit of attention and a good moan, which goes some way towards explaining the popularity of social media titans such as Facebook and Twitter. Sat on a bus next to someone who with a particularly unique stench? Whip out your phone and tell everyone about it! Phone bill slightly higher than usual? ‘OMG FML!’
Basically, a good old rant on Facebook is a great way to vent and let your friends know that your life totally sucks.
In recent weeks, however, you might have noticed rants from complete strangers directed towards large companies and famous figures popping up on your newsfeed. This is because ‘Facebook rants’ are now officially a ‘thing’, like those pictures which demand confirmation that you love your mother through a ‘like’ and Sean Bean telling us things that one does not simply just do.
Defining a ‘Facebook rant’ is pretty easy; it’ll be aimed at a big brand name, it’ll either be semi-literate or holier than thou in tone or it’ll be so long that you’ll eventually get bored of clicking ‘continue reading’. You’re bound to have seen a couple that some of your friends have liked.
Even if you haven’t, there have been a couple of high profile cases that have received coverage in the mainstream media over the past month or so; a rant against Ryanair regarding their slightly ridiculous check-in and boarding process (which goes against the grain in that it was actually quite short and to the point) and one against Odeon lamenting the ridiculous price of going to the cinema to see ‘Transformers 6: Are We Really Still Making These?’
In both cases, the rant has come from a customer that feels they have been unfairly treated. In the past, it’s likely that these customers would have simply called a customer service line and dealt with the matter privately, or grumbled to themselves quietly and let the matter contribute to the ever-mounting feeling that the world is against them.
However, when you set up a brand page on Facebook, you’re essentially providing your customers with a public customer service line. And while it’s great when the odd customer might publicly praise Alan the work experience boy for his fantastic service, the chances are a lot of people will be using your page for the purpose of venting a bit of rage.
Even worse, whereas complaints were previously dealt with on a customer to customer basis, Facebook rants mean that you’re often left dealing with a small army of disgruntled consumers rather than a single moaner. Think of the complaining customer as William Wallace, and the likers and commenters as his band of angry Scots who feel a bit aggrieved at England too.
The more people that like the rant, the more likely it is people who aren’t even that aware of your brand are going to see it. In short, a rant against your company that goes viral can really damage your reputation.
So how do you deal with such a beast? Well, you could take the Ryanair route in which master of evil Michael O’Leary (who wants your soul in exchange for reasonably priced flights) decided to tell the ranter in question to ‘bugger off’. Oh, and he told her everything she complained about was her fault due to her ‘f*** up’. And responded to her request for compensation with a request that she pay Ryanair compensation.
It hasn’t won him many fans.
So with that out of the window, what other options do you have? You could just ignore it and sweep it under the carpet, but don’t be surprised if you find an ever-growing lump of discontent under your carpet as a result.
The best way to approach such a crisis is to come straight out and respond to the ranter’s concerns in a professional and thoughtful manner. Your response would preferably be in the comments to the rant itself, as it shows that you read and note your customers concerns, and make a concerted effort to respond to them directly rather than through other media outlets.
Of course, you can avoid all of this by a) making sure your service isn’t so bad that 800,000 people feel compelled to agree with a rant against an extreme case of bad customer service and b) use your social media platforms to regularly interact with your customers and improve your brand reputation. Simple!