A new Facebook update, targeted primarily at business pages has eased some of the negative pressure for companies that get a flood of negative comments on their home pages by no longer allowing comments to be seen front and centre but rather, hiding negative comments, which can be seen by clicking on an icon or by putting all comments on the left hand side of the page.
The changes made by Facebook have allowed large corporations to breathe a sigh of relief, allowing them to avoid any negative backlash they may receive caused by their actions, being a change in company policy or a marketing campaign. Still, the changes go against open dialogue and freedom to express all concerns and thoughts that Facebook has encouraged between companies and consumers and risk turning off consumers, some industry watchers say.
It’s detrimental because it defeats the whole primary purpose of Facebook, which is to engage with their customer base and allow them to interact and answer any questions their customers may have. The revamp earlier this year underscores the challenges that companies face in grappling with harsh feedback about their initiatives on social media and elsewhere on the Internet. As Facebook courts firms to advertise, it is making moves that could minimize negative comments on their products and may turn away customers as it could make them feel as if their comment is worthless.
Facebook spokeswoman Meg Sinclair said it collapsed the comment posts because “it creates a better experience for people” especially as more members shift to using the site on mobile devices. The change was not made in response to requests from brands, she said. On corporate pages, the potential audience “is everyone in the world who likes that page” while on personal profiles – where comments are more visible – the audience is mutual friends or acquaintances; “therefore, comments are likely to be more relevant,” she said. “We always try to show only the most relevant content to people, especially in prime real estate like the News feed,” she said.
With a move like this Facebook has limited the reach that most business pages can achieve, smaller businesses would struggle to reach customers, generate new business and respond to customers comments and concerns with the business or its products
The changes come amid other overhauls that Facebook has made for businesses using its site as it tries to shore up its advertising revenue. In November, Facebook started to reduce the amount of brand-page content that shows up in the news feeds of its 1.3 billion users, essentially forcing companies to pay for marketing.
Facebook now requires that brands pay to “boost” a post if they want users to see it, although in return it allows a company to better target paid posts to people according to location, age, language and other demographics. With this, the company would be able to get the marketing reach as they did before, but smaller companies with a small marketing budget would suffer with this update.