Over the spring, I saw several discussions, in various social media venues, about whether to announce that you’ll be away from an agency Facebook page if your agency shuts down.
The short version of each side is:
pro: people don’t expect regular posts or responses
con: since you can’t review comments or posts on FB before they appear, people might take advantage and post all kinds of things you’d normally delete
Today I happened to see one interesting case study: the Facebook page used by the Coast Guard and other agencies to share information about the BP spill.
This was a major disaster, and while it was going on, posts on the page regularly received dozens of comments. Many of them were openly hostile, expressing deep-seated anger and frustration and accusing the gov’t of being idiots or in bed with BP. We saw the same thing on EPA’s Facebook page well into the winter.
For example, the second-to-last post on the Deepwater Horizon page was a video of a US Coast Guard guy wishing his family well on Thanksgiving since he was working on the response. People commented that he’s a pawn and that the USCG and BP are “one and the same.”
On Feb. 4, they posted to say they were essentially walking away from the page.
7 people liked the post and there have been 4 comments, none of them hostile (it says 7, but only 4 appear when you click to read them).
Now, three months went by without a post before the last one. And I’m not saying this is universally what’ll happen.
But given the passion around the BP spill, I think it’s a strong case study that we might not need to worry quite so much about people taking advantage.
Check it out for yourself: