Does Facebook Make It Harder To Interact With Fans?

image from www.google.com This guest post comes from musician RJ Comer of LA's Dance Hall Pimps.

Recently, we began running some very targeted ads to help promote the Dance Hall Pimps Facebook fan page, and I have to say it’s been pretty successful, getting almost 500 new fans (real fans) in just over a month on a small budget.

One of the things I wanted to make sure we did was interact with each and every one of these new fans – numbers don’t mean anything, it’s the real personal connections that do.

Does being thanked on Facebook annoy you? Facebook thinks so. We send one short personal “Thank You” message to every person who “Likes” our page. For example, we target fans of “True Blood” in our area, and joked a little bit with them in our thank you message: “I see you’re a fan of True Blood. Us too. Our dream gig is to make an appearance as the house band at Fangtasia.”

We have often received positive messages back. But if we do this too many in a row, Facebook suspends privileges claiming that this activity is annoying or spamming. So we thought we’d ask you. Does a personal thank you message from a band you “Like” annoy you?

We asked our fans this, and they don’t seem to think so. One fan responded “It’s stupid. The note I received from you was one of the nicest I’d ever gotten. The policies are dumber every day and it seems I make connections in spite of FB not because of it.”

Facebook apparently thinks that is spamming activity. I sent Facebook a couple of nice respectful messages trying to tell them that what we do is not annoying and gave them some suggestions. It would be one thing if we have some automated bot sending the exact same messages and not doing these one-on-one, but I feel I feel I should be able to communicate with these new fans, especially if I’m paying Facebook to acquire them.

Thanking Fans = Good

Personally thanking your fans = good. Doing it too fast or too often = bad, at least according to Facebook. Facebook encourages businesses and business activity on Facebook, but still has protection measures that don’t allow businesses to be business-like with their fans and friends.

It should be noted again that the emails back to me from the personal thank-you messages are unanimously positive, resulting in real connections with new fans.

If Facebook were a real business with real people ready to talk to their customers, I would have leapt down their throat over this. But Facebook insulates itself from its business users by providing no mechanism for genuine businesslike interaction with them.

Instead all I get is my messaging disabled without any idea of how “moderate” I have to be in order to adhere to Facebook requirments. Here is the email I have sent that addresses this problem in detail:

Hi again: RJ Comer, Administrator of Dance Hall Pimps page. And a paying FB advertiser. I communicated twice yesterday about my messaging feature being disabled for sending “Thank You” messages to new “Likes” at our band page.

I slowed down when warned, yet was still penalized by being disabled. Our fans have responded that they are not annoyed by receiving 1 short thank you message–in fact they appreciate being acknowledged. If someone has reported my Thank You emails as abuse–tell me that. But the response I get from them is 100% postive.

We do not spam our fans, we attach no links to the single Thank You message. I do not initiate FRs to our fans–though i accept their FRs to me. Then today it appeared my messaging was operational. I proceeded very slowly, and now it is disabled again. I’m being respectful. I like FB. It is very useful, but you’re disabling me from communicating to fans in a limited, respectful, not annoying way. And I paid FB advertising dollars to attract these fans.

Perhaps it would be useful if FB defined “slow down” specifically. Such as “You must limit your messaging to 1 message per hour for the next 24 hours or you will be disabled.” At least then i could regulate my activity within a known parameter. But this process your using is penalizing FB users who are attempting to play by your rules, for activities that are not annoying or spamming.

If FB doesn’t want business on FB that’s ok, just say so. But if you’re going to encourage businesses like bands and musical groups, you have to make sure you avoid penalizing them for communicating directly with fans. C’mon, we’re both business people here. Can we communicate about this like business people and find a solution?

What do you think? Is this a legitimate function that needs to exist on order to battle spam, or id it overkill on Facebook’s part?

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  1. A personal message would not annoy me, but what’s being described is spam, not a personal message.
    Anything short of “Hey bjza, it was good to see you at the show Friday. We should talk more about True Blood next time we’re in town. -RJ” is a poor use of inbox space in my book. And you’re missing the vital numbers that would tell you how the majority of your fans actually feel.

  2. Great post, RJ! I agree with you 100%. I’ve worked with bands where we experienced the same thing. Most people like receiving a personal message from the artist after liking their page. I can understand FB wanting to curb spamming but what you’re doing and the way you’re doing it is what FB is supposed to be about – engaging with friends and fans. Keep rockin’ it!

  3. Facebook is so annoying on so many levels. This kind of automated overkill combined with lack of direct communication is pretty much a hallmark of major tech companies, Google being particularly annoying as well.
    I’ve been dealing with a related issue with MOG’s ad network for one of my old hip hop sites.
    They sent me an automated message saying that their automated system had discovered I was linking to illegal downloads or something similar, they didn’t specify, and they were suspending my account due to that TOS violation.
    When I wrote them back to say that I wasn’t doing anything of the sort and would love to know what they found so I could correct it, I received a note saying they were sorry but they couldn’t do anything for me except suspend my account!
    It was hardly making any money so that’s not such a big deal but it makes me wonder what will happen as more and more crucial services emerge that refuse to intervene in automated stupidity unless you’re a high visibility tech blogger or have friends in the company.

  4. Honestly, I can’t even find a way to send personal messages to anyone from a Page account. If there’s a way, I can’t find it.
    To play devil’s advocate, most bands are annoying with how they spam anything and everything. In the MySpace days, it simply got rude and unruly. In that respect, I can understand FB’s strict attitude….even though I get crappy game requests all the time…
    But, through FB pages, I don’t feel like I can make legitimate connections with people. My real plan for FB is to get them to sign up for my email list. Email is still the number one social technology that you have 100% control over how you interact with fans.

  5. I can’t find a way to send messages to fans as a page, either.
    It looks like the closest thing you can do is send an update. It’s under “Edit page/Resources/Send an update”. Even then, you can’t send it to an individual. You can only narrow it down by location, age, and sex.
    And it’s not like anyone reads page updates. They’re hidden away somewhere in the sidebar.
    It looks like email and Twitter are the best tools to communicate directly to an individual fan.

  6. Thanks bjza, i appreciate that perspective, and wondered if there might be a silent majority who doesn’t like the message. But I watched for people un-liking the band and didn’t that. I’ll keep your suggestion for a shorter message in mind.
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  7. Thanks Madalyn
    We’re just being careful not to do too many in rapid succession and aso far it’s working out.
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  8. Hi Clyde:
    yeah, I’m not that tech savvy, but it seems the critical issue for FB is are they going to be business freindly or just a place for a business to have a presence without providing the farmework for business acticity to take place.
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  9. Nothing worng with your TV set, you can’t send direct messages to fans as the band, you have to do it individually as the administrator of the page. I sent the messages from me on behalf of the Dance Hall Pimps. And I was careful not to send freind requests to fans or approach them again unless invited.
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  10. Hi Wes:
    Yeah, like I repoied above, you can’t do it as the band. You have to send the messages individually as the administrator fo the page.
    Also, I agree that bombing fans with emails and messages too often is annoying. We don’t do that. We email out maybe once a month if we have gig or to announce something important. We keep them updated through the FB page and twitter page
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  11. Thanks for the comment. No, you can’t do it as the band. You have to send the messages individually as the administrator fo the page.
    Also, I agree that bombing fans with emails and messages too often is annoying. We don’t do that. We email out maybe once a month with gig schedule or to announce something important, but never more than one email a month. We keep them updated on the routine stuff through the FB page and twitter page.
    Dance Hall Pimps
    Pimp Music Not People

  12. It’s not the length that I meant when I said “anything short of…”; it’s the level of personal relationship. Sending a private message or email for liking/following/adding is like buying a thank you card for the cashier at your grocery store. If there hasn’t been genuine personal interaction in the public sphere (more than someone clicking “like”), don’t jump to the private.
    My example above was meant to be a case where the two people had met and talked in person.

  13. Totally support you! There should be spam protection for common users, but when you’re a band (with some means of account verification and monitoring) you shouldn’t be stopped on sending messages to fans.

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