Editor’s Note: Currently, Facebook Reviews is a one-way communication feature that public agency social media managers can disable. A con might be losing out on positive reviews, but the pro of avoiding potentially negative or bogus reviews that are problematic to remove may far outweigh the feature’s benefit.
When “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” meets “keyboard courage,” businesses and governments beware. Twitter users expect immediate apologies from their airline if a flight doesn’t take off on time. Yelp “Elite Squad” foodies can practically hold restaurants hostage with negative reviews. And it’s easier than ever to type “f*** the police” on Facebook just because they gave you a parking ticket. Then again, the internet also brings us hilarious Amazon reviews. It’s not all bad.
But, it’s especially tough times for public agencies that are being pressured to leverage social media to engage with their communities while being transparent about their business and policies. Nine times out of ten, empowering your residents to voice their feedback about city government paves the way for speedier, higher-quality public service. Every so often, though, the same digital tools can be misused or abused. Or they were just poorly designed for two-way engagement in the first place.
Getting Caught in the Crossfire of Misplaced Rage
Recently, I came across a city fire department’s Facebook page where someone had left a 1-star review. The review itself wasn’t even about the fire department — it was a rant accusing the city’s police department of racial profiling. Because of the quirkiness of Facebook page reviews, the fire department can’t delete or hide this irrelevant review. They can only report it to Facebook, let Facebook decide whether it violates Facebook’s own terms of service, and then maybe the review will be removed. Otherwise, it remains prominent as one of the eight reviews currently on the Facebook Page. Thanks, Zuck.
There are plenty of marketing bloggers out there who would cling to their MBA studies and tell this public agency department to “fight fire with fire.” (Pun absolutely intended) Engaging the community and/or friends & family to flood the page with positive reviews could ultimately bury the 1-star review and increase the average rating. Hell, that’s straight out of the playbook of the high-priced world of online reputation management. But would the new reviews be fair and genuine? More importantly, would the community even trust them? You’d be surprised at how well people can sniff out a “Stepford Wives” situation.
If your public agency or department finds itself on the receiving end of some unfair or irrelevant Facebook page reviews, just pretend you’re on “Shark Tank”: