For some time now, Facebook has been adding new features to streamline the interaction between companies and their audiences – a great way to strengthen the position of the social media platform as a crucial online marketing tool! Since fall of 2015, Facebook has therefore been suggesting that pages should enable automatic replies to their initial messages.
As you know, we live in an age of immediacy. Asking a question on social media means that we want a quick answer, not an answer that will come a week later. Keeping this in mind, Facebook has developed a new tool that lets you reply to users on the spot. The text is at your own discretion (provided that it does not exceed 250 characters) and you can even customize some of its elements: the user’s first and last name, your website, your company’s phone number and address, among others.
Therefore, a user who messages your company will immediately receive a message informing him that his question will be answered as soon as possible and redirecting him, if required, to other resources. For the administrator this means buying time to find the answer to that question, if any, while also making the page seem more responsive. Knowing that he will be given a quick answer, the user is likely to send private messages in the future.
Although the advantage of this new feature is that all messages are answered on the spot and no message falls between the cracks, such answers are not customized. The first major problem: Facebook does not recognize the language used by the sender. It is therefore not possible to write an answer that is valid for all kinds of messages. Yes, some people do ask questions, but others send photos, compliments, job applications, etc. Answering them “Thank you for your message, we will get back to you as soon as possible” has no value to them, and it also reveals the fact that this is a pre-written message.
Another noteworthy fact: although Facebook was testing this feature back in the fall, it still has many bugs. Several administrators have observed that the automatic pre-written answer was sent not only after the initial message, but also after two, three, or four messages from the user. This results in a repetition that gives users the impression that it is a waste of time to contact the company via Facebook.
While all social media 101 courses emphasize the importance of a perceived human element behind a company online, it’s somewhat contradictory that Facebook offers a tool that standardizes answers to private messages. If you had to choose: would you rather wait longer to get a truly relevant answer, or would you prefer a quick but empty reply?
You probably made the same choice we made.
Dominique – Senior Account Manager