Live From Shop.org: Best Buy Learns How to Handle Facebook Cranks

Sep 23, 2009 8:31 PM  By

Las Vegas–Best Buy launched its official Facebook page in July, and has experienced tremendous growth on the social media site, with more than 800,000 fans to date.

But the electronics retailer discovered that with that many fans, there could be a few hundred rotten apples.

Best Buy on Sept. 18 posed what it thought was a simple and innocent a question on its Facebook page: “What do you think about offering Bestbuy.com in Spanish?”

The posts that followed were anything but simple and innocent, according to Tracy Benson, senior director, interactive marketing and emerging media for Best Buy. “It was a landmine,” Benson said at the Shop.org annual summit at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sept. 22

“There were hundreds of negative responses flowing in, people posting racist, rude comments,” Benson said. “Our contact center was monitoring this, and they were crying, waiting for a positive comment to come in.”

But the positive comments didn’t come. So what did Best Buy do?

Benson said she and the social media team met with the marketing department and human resources to weigh its options. “For right or wrong, we decided to take it down and see if the [the commenters] went away–and they did,” Benson said.

What did Best Buy learn from the experience? “We have to learn how to respond when negative comments are coming in,” Benson said.

Companies have to figure out their own thresholds, she said, but in this case, “no constructive dialog was going on.”

But Best Buy, which did not release a press release to apologize for the question and offensive comments, will try to poll its fans on the topic again, Benson said. It will rephrase the question, though, she added.