Gloria Jeans has been the subject of much dispute lately, with allegations that they have been giving money to mercy ministries, a ministry supported by the controversial Hillsong church.

The ministry has come under fire, being accused of using exorcism to treat bipolar disorder.  The Hillsong church has a long history of it’s own controversy, but recent has been subject negativity regarding anti-gay activity.

There has been plenty of discussion regarding the controversy, but worth also noting from our perspective is how appallingly handled their social media has been over the course of the unrest.

The Page has become a proverbial minefield of overly politicised anger, argument and all around negativity.

Gone are the happy reports of people enjoying delicious coffees and delightful chocolate shakes, replaced now by projectiles of hatred as the Page becomes an all-out war zone between people on either side of the marriage equality debate.

Regardless of the alignment, both the Page and GJ’s is scarred severly by the hostility that surrounds around it.

 

Facebook Pages build communities. That is the major value of the Page to any organisation that chooses to adopt one.  The community builds and establishes two-way engagement with both the organisation and the community that surround it.  If the community is positive the brand reaps the benefits. So what happens when the community flares up?

One thing we often discuss in our Bootcamps is the notion of spam versus criticism.  There is a very clear line that separates the two, yet it’s one that many people, all-too often, seem unable to distinguish.

Spam is the Internet equivalent of graffiti. It has no contextual value whatsoever and most importantly: it does not voice a legitimate concern or grievance. You treat this exactly the same way you would treat graffiti tagged on to the door of your office: You’d get rid of it.

But when the graffiti become considered, contextually relevant and demands a response it ceases to be graffiti at all. You need to deal with it. Removing the comments will not remedy the problem; in fact it’s a sure-fire way to inflame it.

This is exactly what Gloria Jeans has done on their Facebook Page. The community has fallen into disarray, demanding a response and all Gloria Jeans Facebook team have done to respond to the comments themselves is deleted a handful of the overly negative ones. This, combined with the volatile subject matter was the Social Media equivalent of trying to quench fire with gasoline. The issue has since gone viral and the angry posts are coming in faster than GJ’s can presumably handle. The PR team appear to have essentially abandoned ship, because no comments are receiving any attention.

The only attempt to respond to the confusion has been a single lengthy statement that has come straight from a PR department.

Facebook and Public relations go hand in hand. But Facebook requires consistent monitoring and attention. A single post, framed by extensive periods of static, does not do good things for the page. Especially when the Page’s community is a raging ball of anger. And whilst any organisation with the worlds best PR/ Social Media department could hardly be expected to respond to every single comment, the major issues brought up need to be addressed in a timely and consecutive fashion. This is a cornerstone principal of good community management.

A Facebook Page community is an incredibly powerful thing for any organisation to grow. But unless you treat that community with the respect it demands, you may well find the Page does you more harm than good.