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Amazon on Facebook: 'la la la we're not listening'

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The Facebook Pages for some of the UK's biggest retailers are awash with marketing messages, but often ignore questions and complaints from their customers, a new study has found.

Amazon was the worst performing among the 10 UK retailers with the largest Facebook footprint – taken from Econsultancy's top 10 retailers rated by number of 'fans' – as it never answered a single query in the whole week of the study, although it regularly released marketing guff.

If companies don't want to have a two-way conversation with customers, they shouldn't be on Facebook Pages, Conversocial, which ran the study (PDF), said.

The social media management firm said that if retailers responded quickly to criticism and questions, their fans would post their gratitude on the wall, giving them great publicity and inspiring confidence in buyers.

On the other hand, no matter how Page-owners tried to bury complaints and rants about being ignored, the readers would find them and comment on them, making them look like uncaring money-grubbers.

"While private complaints via email or phone will only ever be known to a handful of people, Facebook messages are in the public domain, making it imperative that they are not ignored," the study said.

"Quick reactions give a competitive advantage, but there is an even greater difference between companies which reply and those who ignore queries. This shouts to your customers that you are not interested in their feedback and simply wish to push out one-way marketing messages."

Sufficiently ticked off customers will direct people to previous irate comment threads and ignored issues and will even post their annoyance on marketing updates if retailers disable commenting on their walls.

"Companies, including River Island, have chosen to prevent fans from writing on their walls. So instead, their customers post complaints under the pages’ marketing updates," Conversocial said.

In this case, even if the company might like to help to sort out an issue, finding the complaint on the marketing update is a logistical nightmare. On top of that, the firm has basically put out an ad that has p***ed off comments on it, which probably aren't going to inspire many sales.

"Whereas a wall post is only visible when someone visits the page, comments on page updates are visible directly in the newsfeed of all of your fans," the study said. "Fans are not deterred by a disabled wall, but will simply hijack your updates."

Retailers weren't always ignoring their customers on purpose, but were also having trouble discovering the problems customers were having – in amongst all their ads and other comments – because they weren't allocating enough resources to monitor their social media.

"Even Marks & Spencer, who respond swiftly to issues posted on their page, and show a real dedication to social customer care, struggle to stay on top of problems hidden amongst their updates," Conversocial said. "To keep up with the pace, businesses must give social networks the attention and resources they need to be valuable."

Next was the best at responding to its customers, with Asos.com, New Look, Ann Summers and Marks & Spencer rounding out the top five. The worst responder was Amazon, followed by French Connection, River Island, Topshop and JD Sports. ®

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