A curse on your pages: Facebook madness from Nestle and Beneful

Beneful, a Nestle subsidary which manufactures dog food, is in trouble:


If you’re making dog food, and people start saying that your product is killing their dogs then that’s about as bad as it gets.

You may remember that Nestle provided social media consultants with one of the best, and most public examples about how to mis-manage a Facebook page with the palm oil debacle – here’s one of many blog posts which covered this. One of the key problems with this was censorship, and the deletion of posts.

How to avoid treading this road again? Address the situation head on, speak to the customers, try and gauge the scale of the problem maybe? Nope. Instead, in the face of a growing storm Beneful posts things like the following:




While, at the same time, their Facebook page is starting to fill up with things like:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.59.28 PM

Which gets a response something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 9.00.52 PM

It seems like Beneful are going down the same road which Nestle trod a few years ago – threaten your page fans with deletion and remain anonymous as possible; further, don’t address the issue directly.

And here’s why this is, generally, a bad move:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.58.05 PM

Cultivating a following of ‘influencers’ works both ways – have a good product, be respectful and people will love you for it. Start disrespecting your followers, particularly by censoring posts, and you’ve not only set your Facebook page on fire, but are merrily throwing petrol onto the flames.

And here’s the impact on existing customers:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.52.19 PM

It’s easy to criticise, but here some things I would do in this situation:

– Stop being so goddamn anonymous; use your first name when you moderate or comment; try and give people a name to which they can talk to. Anonymity makes it much easier to be offensive, and get treated the same.

– Use Facebook to acknowledge the current situation; for every hater, there’s a bunch of people who, for the time being, think your brand’s okay. Directly acknowledging the problem, sharing the facts and describing the action you are taking is the mature thing to do. Posts about skyping dogs, in the face of news articles about less than healthy hounds make it look like you’re ducking the issue. Regardless of whether the product is fine, or not, you need to be proactive with the facts – even if it is bad news. Who else can help?- can the FDA support your claims, for example, that everything is okay?

Nestle’s Digital Acceleration Team became a bit of a big deal a while ago – so why does this feel like familiar territory for Nestle?

Update: Beneful are clearly using copy and paste – they seem to spend more time informing people they are removing their posts that actually doing anything meaningful. Community management, this is not.

Thanks to the awesome Corporate Bollocks Facebook page for tipping me off about Beneful.



Swedish Kommuns and Facebook: Another dirty review

Back in February I published a post which gave a quick, and rather dirty, review of Swedish kommuns and their use of Facebook. I like dirty, so here’s a follow up which looks at the same pages, almost a year later, in December 2012. Before we go any further:

What’s wrong with the data:
– Not every page is included (Nor have I looked at multiple pages from the same Kommun), there’s around 90 Kommun pages included here
– Some kommuns have only opened their walls for posts in the last few months (but well done you!)
– I can miscount stuff
– Facebook’s supposed chronological presentation of posts can sometimes be a little odd
– Page owners can have removed posts

And what’s wrong with the method:
– I don’t include comments on posts from the page
– I don’t control for posts from the same person (there’s more than one page which has a lot of ‘engagement’ from one or two special individuals)
– I have not looked at how quickly questions, comments etc are responded to
– I’ve not even attempted to second guess the stratgy behind the page (is it to drive traffic to a website, or encourage people to comment; for example?)
I have instead looked at the number of likes (yes, yes I know – not a sharp metric), the average monthly growth of likes and the number of posts by page friends.

Here’s a bubble chart showing number of likes on December 19th 2012:

Facebook likes - Swedish Kommuns

Clicking on the image will take you to the clickable chart.

Some clear winners, on the basis of likes. I’ve set up Facebook pages myself (and currently manage one for a client) and likes have never been the best metric. But, but, but – when you’re a kommun you know, roughly, how big your target group is – the number of citizens in your kommun. If your likes are a miniscule percentage of that number, then maybe you’re not really communicating optimally via Facebook.

Here’s a bubble chart of kommuns showing the average monthly growth, of likes, in 2012:

Average monthly growth - Kommun Facebook pages

Click on the image to visit the clickable chart.

Averages are dangerous things, but these data give an idea of what the best, and worst, growth looks like. These data give you no idea whether all the growth is restricted to a few months, or is spread throughout the year. Update: Basically, what I’m saying here is that some pages, indeed, a whole bunch of them; have simply not grown much at all. Others, like Karlstad are gaining likes at an impressive rate. GIven that many kommuns said in a recent survey that they lacked resources to adequately manage social media, this is not altogether surprising.

Bubble chart showing the number of posts left by page friends in 2012:

Facebook page posts - Swedish Kommuns

Bonus – correlation between posts and likes…make of this what you will:

FB likes vs posts

I’ve removed Karlstad’s page as including it sends all the other pages scurrying into the bottom left hand corner while it sits high up in the top right – no question for them that more likes is associated with more posts. There are outliers where lower numbers of likes are associated with still high numbers of posts but, generally, on the basis of these data you could roughly predict the number of posts by looking at the number of likes. Remember, as well, that these data are skewed by pages which may have only opened their walls in the last few months as well as pages which have received lots of attention from one or two people.

What can you do with this data?
No deep insights, I’m afraid, as I’ve got no idea what your particular kommun strategy with Facebook is. However, as most kommuns are using social media to have a dialogue with their citizens (Slide 7, Sveriges Kommun & Landsting) then presumably a low level of posts from page friends is an indication this target is not being met (though you may rock with comments on your posts – I didn’t look at that). Check out what the rock stars from this list are doing and remember, developing a social media presence takes time, patience and more than a little enthusiasm.

You can find my list of data here – if you notice any errors, sorry, entirely my fault and if I can find the time I’ll make this less dirty and more shiny. Here’s the raw data from the last time I did this.

Swedish Kommuns and Facebook – a quick and dirty review

The other day I was struck by the thought ’I wonder how Swedish Kommun Facebook pages compare’ – so I took a look, and the results are presented here ( a ‘kommun’ is the Swedish equivalent of a British ‘county’ – an administrative region). Before we get stuck in, a few comments on the data:

First – there’s a ton of data missing; I certainly will have missed pages, nor have I spent time looking at how many Facebook pages a kommun might have. Nor have I made any kind of assessment of their overall communication strategy (they may stink at Facebook but throw great parties). I tried to check but it may well be that the pages I understood to be representing the Kommun are entirely ‘unofficial’ and actually administrated by small dogs.

Second – I’ve only looked at number of friends (not a particularly sharp metric) and number of posts left by page friends (a slightly better metric, but I only looked at February). I’ve not looked at comments left on posts (life is too short).

Third –  I’ve not looked at the age of the pages, so the friends metric is pretty useless for figuring out growth rate.

Kommun Facebook Pages – List
Here’s all the data in a spread-sheet. Hat tip to Obiz24 for publishing their survey of Swedish kommuns, which got me off to a good start.

Number of Friends – bubble chart

Facebook Page Friends - Swedish Kommuns

Click on this to get a bubble representation of the number of Facebook friends these Kommun pages had in Feb 2012.

Karlstad Kommun’s Facebook page stands head and shoulders above the others with just over 12282 friends, way more than any of the others I looked at; most struggle to get more than 1000 friends.  No surprise, they also had the most posts left by page friends.

According to Wikipedia, there are 290 Swedish Kommuns, with a massively varying population in each. If one assumes that most of Karlstad’s Facebook page friends actually live in the kommun then they have around 14% of their citizens as friends – definitely a significant communication channel. Not everybody enjoys such success – Eskilstuna, with the second most Friends, theoretically only has 2% of their citizens as Friends.

Number of Posts – bubble chart

Facebook Posts - Swedish Kommuns

Click to see number of posts left on the Kommun Facebook pages, during February.

12 of the Kommuns I looked at have their walls well and truly shut, with no posts allowed. Another 21 Kommun pages failed to get any posts from their friends in February (remember, I’ve not looked at any other months or comments left on posts). Generally, the amount of posts is quite low. Several of the Kommuns have a few ‘activists’ who post several times.

Lots of Numbers – So What?

How do you use this? First, given the large amount of energy often expended on discussing how social media is used in the public sector it’s a provoking reflection that – with regards to the Facebook pages I looked at here – the direct audience (i.e. the total number of friends) seems to be quite low. Second, with a few exceptions the level of engagement (‘shudder’ – what does that word really mean?) is also low – page friends do not seem to post or comment that much.  If you’re investing in your Facebook page then you could maybe use these data as a benchmarking tool, and spot those kommuns which seem to be having success (though it all comes back to your strategy and goal).

Is your page missing? What would make this analysis more useful? Have I made a colossal #fail?  – let me know in the comments box below!

What’s the age of a Facebook page? ‘Joined’ vs ‘No more posts to show’

I’ve been posting for the last few months a bunch of data which attempts to compare the performance of Facebook pages in the Swedish higher education sector (here, for example). It’s been bugging me that I did not have a date for the creation of the Facebook pages I look at. Well, I took a deep breath and scrolled through every wall hoping to get a date for when the page was created. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be so simple; the final entry for each page can either be the helpful ‘ XXXX joined Facebook’ or the more enigmatic ‘No more posts to show’. I also added some UK university pages to the data.

Here’s what I got:

The second and third columns are the date of the first post on the wall, after the message ‘XXX joined Facebook’ or ‘No more posts to show’ i.e. as far back as you can scroll down (if you know what I mean).

Page Name Joined No more posts to show
Karolinska Institutet May 2010
Högskolan Väst June 2009
BTH officiell September 2010
KTH August 2009
Högskolan i Halmstad June 2009
Högskolan Dalarna March 2010
Högskolan Kristianstad June 2009
Karlstads Universitet February 2010
Uppsala University November 2010
Mälardalans Högskola October 2010
Jönköping University August 2009
SLU March 2010
Uppsala universitet March 2009
Malmö Högskola June 2010
Lunds Universitet June 2010
Lund University August 2010
Högskolan i Borås April 2008
Linköping Universitet May 2010
Linne Universitet December 2009
Umeå universitet November 2009
Malmö University September 2010
Skovde February 2011
Stockholm University February 2009
Umeå University November 2009
Chalmers University of technology April 2010
Stockholm school of economics April 2009
Royal Institute of Art October 2010
Stockholm’s universitet September 2009
Cambridge March 2008
Oxford May 2010
Warwick June 2009
Bath September 2009
York January 2008
Sussex April 2009
Leeds June 2011
Northumbria May 2008
Plymouth March 2008
Plymouth II June 2011
Bradford June 2011
Sunderland May 2008
Worcester June 2010
London South Bank August 2009
Keele University December 2007

My suspicion is that the ‘no more posts to show’ message is the same as when the page joined Facebook, but it would be great to confirm this.

A desperate cry for help 

The interweb is surprisingly coy about establishing the age of Facebook pages so I wonder if you can help? If you’re the owner of one of these pages it would be awesome if you could check the date your page was created and then add it in a comment on this post. If you can’t remember that momentous day, then you’ll be able to get it from your insights data. I’d be very grateful, and it would make these data much more robust and hopefully more useful to Facebook heroes like yourself. Bang your date in the comments below and, when I have enough data, I’ll write a new post with the results. I’ll also make sure you’re top of the list when I get around to sending out a white paper about these data and the use of Facebook in Higher Education.

Why is this important?

The number of friends is a fairly weak metric for assessing Facebook success. But, if we want to give it any teeth then comparing it with our peers/competitors pages becomes more robust if we know when their pages were created. That way we can get a rough idea of whether our page’s growth is ‘runaway train give me a pay-rise’ or more ‘damp firework lying in a puddle’ stagnation.

I also think that it would be neat to know exactly how many posts one can see, particularly if you want to go back to an older conversation.

And another thing. The next load of analysis of comments will include a comparison with the UK universities mentioned above, as another way to bench mark the performance of the Swedish Facebook pages analysed here.

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