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This is a cross-post from my Company blog.

How long does it take to anger a slew of fans on your own Facebook page? Let’s ask Nikon.

A status update posted on their Facebook wall yesterday has garnered 1,677 likes; 1,233 shares and 3,008 comments. Numbers to die for in most cases, but not this one. The backlash has also resulted in a new status update posted two hours ago, apologizing for the tone of the first one.

That post is up to 920 likes; 65 shares and 362 comments.

It all started with this update, posted by Nikon or whomever manages their page:

“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?” 

I must say that this status update has all of the elements of engagement. A statement, and two decent follow up questions to get people chatting it up on the page. But the first sentence didn’t go over very well at all. In fact, it offended many, and that was quite clear in the comments.

Some of the complaints included:

  • “Camera equipment can make a difference but it does not make the photographer.”
  • “When you speak on behalf of a company you should be very sensitive regarding how your customers feel about your product.”
  • “The photographer is only as good as his or her brain.” 
  • “The equipment doesn’t matter. People have been getting great photos out of horribly outdated cameras and lenses for a century.
  • Obviously Nikon’s Marcom team have not seen great pictures taken with a improvised pinhole camera made out of an old shoebox or old beated up SLR camera.”

There were also a lot of people defending the post, so it wasn’t all bad. Many people seemed to understand that the intention was not to offend.

But if you take another look at those comments, you will also see that people expect better. These are your customers and people with an affinity for your brand. And that is serious business.

You have to make sure that the right person is representing you on Facebook and that they understand the rules of engagement. This isn’t the kind of work that you can just assign to anyone.

I am not indicating that this is or was the case with Nikon. My point here is that you have to be smart and think these things through. This can happen to anyone, but it is completely avoidable.

Remember, this is brand communications and it requires attention and strategy. It may be on Facebook, but so are your fans. And what happens on Facebook, clearly doesn’t stay – on Facebook.

Authors note: If you’d like to see the post and the comments, you can find them here.

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