Friday, 15 April 2011

Should you allow comments on your facebook page?

For social housing communications professionals who are dipping their toe in social media, twitter is the obvious place to start. It's quick and easy to update and, most importantly, while people can say stuff about you or to you, they can't post on your profile. Someone visiting your profile would only see what you've posted unless they do a search for mentions of you. For control freaks like us, that is reassuring.

However...we know twitter tends to be where our stakeholders (the media, other housing organisations, politicians and the like) gather, whereas our customers are mostly on facebook. The thing is, if you're serious about engaging with tenants through social media, you need to be on facebook.

You can set up a facebook page and only allow comments to be posted by admins - but then you won't achieve true engagement and your page will simply become another broadcast channel. Or you can allow people to post what they like (mitigating the risk using the profanity blocklist function) in the spirit of 'trust until proven otherwise'.

At Wolverhampton Homes we allow people to post comment, pictures and videos freely.  We've been on facebook for 11 months now and I have never had to delete a post or block an individual yet.

That's not to say I wouldn't delete a post - if content that is offensive, illegal or defamatory is posted I'd delete it without a second thought. Depending on what it was I'd most likely block the person as well. We want our facebook page to be a place where people feel able to talk about the things that matter to them without being shouted down, and part of our job is protecting that community from offensive posts.

But if we (as an organisation) feel criticism is misplaced or the issue has not been understood, we have the debate openly and with full respect of the individuals' views (two recent examples are about Decent Homes and who should be entitled to Council housing).

I think you gain more respect from the people you are trying to serve if you are willing to engage in open and honest debate, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at times.


  1. I think we're at an interesting place in the sector when it comes to Social Media and Wolverhampton Homes are really showing their heels and foresight.

    Critically, for me, the ALMO is:

    - Showing a high level of trust in your approach

    - Enabling better governance through this type of transparency

    - Either by accident or design, preparing for the future, where "Regulation by Social Media" will take place more regularly and effectively

    Opportunities to come? Make the Social Media environment accessible and meaningful for a greater number of staff and customers? Not over professionalising the whole thing?

    What do you think?

    Dylan Chipp
    Voluntas Housing
    07813 065588
    Twitter via @voluntasfeedbck

  2. Thanks for your comment Dylan. We are preparing for a future where social media won't be an optional extra, but instead will lead our communications and conversations with tenants. It's an exciting time. I absolutely agree that making social media accessible to more staff and customers is the next step. One of the things we're doing is holding 'Homes on the Net' sessions, where we show tenants and leaseholders how to use the internet for fun and useful stuff. Thanks again for your comment and if you ever want to chat about social media, let me know. :)


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