Yesterday, PR Moment and Ogilvy hosted a session on ‘How brands use Facebook’, inviting Age UK and British Gas to talk about their Facebook presence. I went along expecting to hear how great these brands are on Facebook and why it was going so well for them, but that’s not what I got. Rob from Age UK and Laura from British Gas gave an honest and humble presentation on how they use Facebook and a key theme that everyone agreed on was the importance of taking the good with the bad.

Any brand who hasn’t set up a Facebook page but is thinking of doing so, needs to be ok and prepared with the fact that you will get negative comments as well as good ones. Rob’s (from Age UK) key piece of advice is to keep it real and experiment. Using Facebook as a source of instant feedback, Rob questions his Facebook community as opposed to forcing messages at them. My only niggle with instant feedback in an open forum is that there is risk of backlash – this may be my overly-cautious side talking here!

Laura from British Gas has taken a different approach, to, in her words, “manage the moaning”. She has disabled comments on the wall and uses an app called ‘Talk to Us’, to give the company a much more controlled approach to complaints.

A refreshing point to hear is that both Age UK and British Gas understand that people need to vent. Their stance is that at least people are telling them what’s wrong, giving them an opportunity to learn or address the issue.

So what’s the best approach here? Plan, plan and plan some more. James Whatley at Ogilvy said that you must plan for the worst before thinking of setting up a page. For a brand’s reputation, the emphasis needs to be on how you manage issues as opposed to the issues you face.

This post was written by Charlotte.

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