Why Commenting as Brands on Facebook Sucks

When Facebook updated fan pages a few weeks ago, they gave brands the ability to go to other public pages and comment on them as the brand. So, if your profile is public, Coca-Cola can come over to your page and invite you to enjoy the refreshing taste of an ice-cold soda.

Creepy? Kind of. Annoying. Definitely?

Facebook even gave this ability to page admins to comment as pages on their new comment system, giving brands the ability to spread their message outside of Facebook. Apparently, Facebook forgot its mission to connect people with people and decided to become a marketing platform with social connections.

This is what I see happening now that brands can enter into conversations:

Facebook Brands with Comments 1 - The Anti-Social Media

Facebook Brands with Comments 2 - The Anti-Social Media

Facebook Brands with Comments 3 - The Anti-Social Media

Inevitably there will be someone at some major brand who makes a big mistake and we all get a big laugh out of it for ten minutes, but the problem with all of these new abilities is bigger than that. People don’t want to interact with logos and branding. People want to interact with people.

Facebook page admins: don’t abuse your new powers or people will leave Facebook faster than Myspace on a slow day.

Who am I kidding though? Facebook page admins who are stupider than the people reading this will ruin it for everyone. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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41 Responses to “Why Commenting as Brands on Facebook Sucks”

  1. Mike Adams March 3, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    I agree Jay, if Facebook page admins use this wrong (which they will) people will leave very very quickly. No question Facebook will turn into what MySpace was when everyone left it!

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      I just can’t wait to get an animated gif as my background on my profile page.

  2. Craig March 3, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Spot. On.

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

      I try my best.

  3. John Morrow March 3, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I approve of this message.

    Cocaine and Whores

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

      I’m glad I have your approval Cocaine and Whores.

  4. Brian McDonald March 3, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    This totally sucks especially since Facebook allowed us to act as humans and not company brands when initially setting up pages and accounts. I just realized that I replied to an event on Facebook as a brand and not myself. And of course there is no way to change it!

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

      There are no edits to the Facebook. The Facebook is permanent and everlasting.

  5. Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Interesting point you made: ” People don’t want to interact with logos and branding. People want to interact with people.”

    But there are also people who just want to interact with brands/companies. Isn’t it?

    Maybe not the majority. But when employees are responding to customers on behalf of a brand and disclose their real identity, this might be something different.

    I interact with several brands on Facebook. But I only do it when I know from whome the response is comming.

    But you are right: when people interact with brands/logos this is not a satisfying communication. And yes, people want to interact with people.

    Best wishes from Switzerland,

    • Jerome Pineau March 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

      This is a very interesting comment @Also - as there is a polemic around about whether or not community managers for brands should interact generically on behalf of the brand or as themselves. I believe the latter is the only reasonable option, and do so as such for my clients. Indeed, people don’t give a shit about logos or brands and the point of social media is indeed the “social” - I for one will not interface with a “generic” brand account (at least not with pleasure) and I don’t expect my community members to do so either. You’re either doing social media or not. It’s really not rocket science :)

      • Aldo Gnocchi March 8, 2011 at 6:15 am #


        I just saw your comment today - sorry for the delay.

        You are totally right! People want to talk to people!

        That’s about it. Sure, if i want to rant about a bad product or a horrible service I don’t give a fuck if I’m talking to a brand or a person who talks on behalf of a brand. Maybe the latter one is more comfortable, because you don’t want to hurt a person that might not be guilty for your problem.

        Yeah, it’s no rocket science :D

        Best wishes from Switzerland, Aldo

    • Jerome Pineau March 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

      Sorry, meant @Aldo not @Also duh :)

  6. Marla Hughes March 3, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    One problem with your hypothesis is that a brand can’t interact at all w/anyone who hasn’t ‘liked’ the brand in the first place. So, if you don’t ‘like’ coca-cola’s FB page, they can’t post on your wall, comment on your status. Nada.
    And, if you do ‘like’ a brand and don’t like them commenting on your wall or whatever, you merely ‘unlike’ them, right in their comment, status update or however they communicated with you.
    I LIKE communicating with brands as people. Quite a few of my friends (offline as well as on) are strongly identified with their business brands. All of them are small businesses, not working for large corporations. So, when AbsolutelyClean comments on my page I know it’s actually Stephanie, who’s funny, bright, intelligent and a cool person to be around. She just happens to own a cleaning company and is excellent at branding herself and business. Same with Mari Smith. She may post as MariSmith or Mari Smith. I know both as they’re the same person. Kim Castleberry is also KimCastleberry and on it goes.
    So, a brand communicating with you on FB isn’t about the logo, but the person behind it. Besides, who doesn’t have an avatar on some blog/forum? Same thing.

    • Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      @Marla: I agree with you. It’s important to know the person behind the brand.

  7. Brankica March 3, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Hey Jay, I agree with you.
    I tried it first time it became available, made a comment and gave up. Looked so weird. I mean, if a page comments on some post of mine, I would probably be annoyed too. I wanna meet the person. If I like the person I will do my best to help him/her promote their business. But starting like that is not something I expect from social media.

    Definitely a great observation…but what else would I expect from you :)

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      Yeah, I get it on a brand’s page, but off of that page? It just looks weird.

  8. Jerome Pineau March 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    “…and decided to become a marketing platform with social connections.”

    Jay, if you ever thought that wasn’t the case from day one, you might be naive at best :) But I doubt it…

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

      Call me an old man, but I remember when the ONLY thing you could do on Facebook was have a profile and have friends.

      It sounds crazy, I know! But it was fun!

      • Jerome Pineau March 8, 2011 at 2:08 am #

        Yeah but that was the bait :)

      • Aldo Gnocchi March 13, 2011 at 12:21 am #

        I remember the time when only students - and im met a lot during my exchange program - were on facebook. None than students. and you know what? it was fun too.

        To be connected around the world. Even here i can talk to you guys - and i’m from europe - switzerland. this is wonderful - technology as the enabler of social networking, worldwide.

  9. Claire Wagner March 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I am my brand. Actually, it’s easier to recognize my face from my FB business page. I like interacting with other “brands” (primarily small businesses like mine) as my page, because I only care about them from a business perspective. I could give a crap about them outside of work. Except for a couple of my favorite bloggers.

    • Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      Claire you said: “I could give a crap about them outside of work. Except for a couple of my favorite bloggers.” Is this true?

      • Claire Wagner March 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

        Sorta. I’m sure Chris Brogan or the staff at Social Media Today are nice folks, but I interact with them because I’m a blogger and freelance writer, which is the purpose of my page. On my personal profile, I’m just a middle-aged married Unitarian Green Party Member grandma who was raised in Oakland, CA, all of which accounts my bad manners. I think Chris would rather hear from the blogger…

        • Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

          Allright, that makes sense to me. It just sonds very harsh when you say: “I could give a crap about…”.

          For me it’s quite hard to separate business and private relations because they intertwine. Thanks for your reply!

          Best wishes from Switzerland,

          • Claire Wagner March 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

            Aldo, es tut mir leid. Ich war sehr unhöflich! (Wie die meisten Amerikaner?)

          • Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm #


            No need to say sorry! You were not impolite - nor are Americans :)
            Was nice to meet you here.

        • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

          I prefer the middle-aged married Unitarian Green Party Member grandma who blogs.

          But that’s just me. :)

          • Claire Wagner March 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

            Yeah, she’s funnier.

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

      Well, that’s the best argument for this I’ve read.

  10. Aldo Gnocchi March 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    @Claire: You said: “I could give a crap about them outside of work. Except for a couple of my favorite bloggers.” Really?

  11. John Weeden March 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Great article and I totally agree! Brands as an entity cannot and should not interact as if they were people. The only way I can see this working is for a public figure or a singer/actor/comedian using Pages as a Profile. This way they can interact while maintaining a persona (key point here = “persona” and not “logo/brand”). Plus, they would have better control over keeping somer of their looney fans from seeing their more private photos, friends, family members and conversations.

  12. Ike March 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Jay, I don’t think you’re looking at the whole landscape.

    I work for a company that is working through best practices and policies for doing customer service via social media. Thanks to Facebook, when someone cries out for help we now have two options.

    IKE PIGOTT: Hi, my name is Ike Pigott and I work for the power company. I see where you’re having problems paying online. Can I help you?

    ALABAMA POWER: Hi, this is Ike with our customer care team. Anything we can do to help?

    According to your hardline stance, you think people will shy away from hearing from ALABAMA POWER.

    You don’t think they’d be creeped out by some stranger claiming to be from the power company? With no verification?

    Now, let’s say we do have a team of several dozen employees acting on behalf of the company. You dealt with IKE in the past, and reach out to him. But he’s not on call 24/7, although ALABAMA POWER is.

    Think of it as the equivalent of Twitter’s “Verified Accounts.” Without it, customer care gets hobbled, and opens up the door for a lot of fraud.

    • Karl Sakas March 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

      @Ike: You hit on the big exception to person-versus-brand — customer service. When I contact the cable company with a problem, I don’t care who specifically solves the problem — I just want my internet connection working again.

      Even on a more personal-relationship basis — continuity is nice, but if one of my ad agency clients calls to say their website is down, they don’t really care whether I solve the problem or a colleague helps them if I happen to be out of the office.

      At least when there’s a problem, customer service and client service is about the solution and the result, not the person who fulfills it. That’s true whether it’s online or anywhere else.

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      I get that, and that’s a good point Ike.

      I just don’t think brands should be doing active outreach to people. It’s weird if Coca-Cola sends me a message asking me to blog about them. It’s another if Jenny from PR asks me.

  13. David March 4, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Yes, the reaction to the impersonality of a brand name versus the reaction to the personality of a real person is undoubtedly there.

    However, the reaction may well be offset if the brand’s avatar is a photo of the person behind the brand rather than having a coca cola bottle as the avatar.

    Overall, I see this discussion as a sub-set of the ‘useful-comment-versus-spam-comment’ argument.

    I administer a brand on Facebook. I had vaguely heard about commenting on other pages as a brand, but didn’t look into it until I read your piece.

    I can see the advantage though, because it gets my brand name in front of other people.

    So I just went and switched accounts from my personal account to my brand account (it’s easy to do - there is a toggle in the account section at top right on the page) and left a comment on a page that I like.

    The thing is that I didn’t put anything in my comment that I wouldn’t put in any other comment anywhere else - no ‘come and look at my page’ etc.

    But with sites that are, for example, comment-luv and keyword-luv enabled, the line between signing in under one’s own personal name and a ‘brand’ name is blurred - so commenting as my brand on Facebook is not much of a leap.

    [I just have to go and get my photo taken now]

    • Jay March 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

      I dunno. Your Q is quite handsome. (Get it? “Quite!” I kill myself.)

      Yeah, it’s a tricky line for people. My goal is to keep people from being stupid an ruining it all too quickly.

      • David March 8, 2011 at 6:27 am #

        The ‘Q’ is Olicana typeface from Nick Cooke’s G-Type foundry - available on MyFonts.

        He shapes each letter and letter combination so that it reads like it’s handwritten.

        If he brings out a webfont version, I’ll get it for sure.


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