The goal of every brand’s social media presence is to reach their fans in a conversational and engaging way. But in every community there are a few people – “badvocates,” as we like to call them – who are determined to get their disdain for the company out in the open.
It usually results from a bad experience a customer had with your company, and they chose to vent about it on your company’s Facebook brand page. As a social media community manager, you learn to anticipate and expect that it can happen.
Most of the time, a customer wants a simple apology and when applicable, a refund or a coupon to encourage them to continue using your service/product. But how do you respond if that customer uses obscenities on your page or posts something offensive?
This is where a good Facebook brand page Terms of Service (TOS) agreement comes into play. According to the ground rules for a brand page, community managers have the right to remove inappropriate content and let fans know what is and is not tolerated. TOS agreements can be posted either on the “About” section or on a separate page that links to the agreement. We recommend listing the terms on the “About” section to make it easy for customers to find.
Here are five tips to providing a good TOS agreement:
1. Tie your Terms of Service to your brand mission and messaging. Make sure the TOS agreement is in line with the brand’s goals for the community. Agreements should be written in your brand’s voice whenever possible and make it audience-friendly. Let your fans know the rules, but remember – your brand page should be a fun experience.
2. Make the terms simple. Social media channels are not the place for companies to flex their legal muscles. Certainly consult your legal team on the “About” section, but legalese isn’t understood by everyone. The old newspaper rule of “writing at a sixth grade level” should apply to the TOS agreement for the page as well.
3. Justify community management procedures. Explain the purpose of your rules and what’s unacceptable for your page. Clarify which types of posts are grounds for removal. When you delete the next offensive wall post, the TOS agreement will serve as a reference to later explain the action you took.
Such examples include personal attacks, inappropriate language or comments irrelevant to the page (believe it or not, Skippy Peanut Butter’s Facebook page is not the place for a debate on abortion). For repeat offenders, banning users serves as a last resort if he or she is unwilling to follow the rules.
4. Define usage rights. Did a fan post a really awesome picture of themselves using your product or at one of your stores? Let them know if you’ll be using their image, but make it clear that any photos, videos or ideas on the page is officially the brand’s property and they won’t receive any compensation for their content. It’s also important to reiterate that anything posted on the page must not violate any copyright infringement laws or it would be subject to removal.
5. Display your customer service contact information. This is a no-brainer. Make sure to provide a customer service email and/or phone number. Put it at the top of your brand page so your consumers know how to reach you.
Don't wait for a social media crisis to hit your Facebook page. Get a terms of service agreement on your page now because it sets clear boundaries for your fans and gives you permission to act when badvocates ruin your community's page experience for everyone.
- Adam Miller