When Facebook Fans Turn Ugly: Examining The Honda Accord Crosstour Page

-Honda Crosstour Fail-There’s been some buzz among car enthusiasts over the past couple days surrounding a new Facebook Page that was launched by Honda to promote their soon to be released Accord Crosstour. The company expected to be embraced lovingly by fans but instead the crowd turned ugly. Numerous comments were posted by users, stating how ugly the car was and that they’d never buy it.

Eddie Okubo of Honda then posted a comment to the page stating that he loved the new car design without disclaiming that he works for the company. Honda eventually removed the comment from Eddie, but not before the damage was done and one of the largest auto blogs had covered it. Today, the company has posted the following response on the Facebook Page:

Hi, Facebook fans. We’re listening, and we want to address a few things you’ve been talking about over the past few days.

  1. The photos: Arguably, the two studio photos we posted didn’t give you enough detail, nor were they the best to showcase the vehicle. There are more photos on the way. Maybe it’s like a bad yearbook photo or something, and we think the new photos will clear things up.
  2. It’s not the European wagon: We’ve seen a lot of comments about the desire for a wagon, but this is neither a wagon nor designed for wagon buyers. We think the Euro wagon is a cool vehicle, too, and we appreciate the feedback… but a version of that wasn’t our intention here. That’s another segment worthy of our consideration, but the Accord Crosstour, built on the larger, Accord platform, is meant to give you the best of two worlds – the versatility of an SUV with the sportiness of a car.
  3. Many of you don’t like the styling: It may not be for everyone. Our research suggests that the styling does test well among people shopping for a crossover.
  4. You want further details about the Accord Crosstour: We typically can’t give you details so far out from when the vehicle goes on sale for a number of reasons, including competitive intelligence and pure availability. However… we hear your frustrations, and while specs on the vehicle aren’t finalized, we’re trying to get some stuff together that we hope will satiate some of your curiosity and give you more to think about.
  5. Honda associates participating in the wall comments: We didn’t remove comments out of embarrassment. We removed comments that were posted contrary to American Honda’s consumer-generated media policy for associates: We must first clearly state that we are Honda employees and that a posting is a personal – not Honda’s – opinion. Eddie forgot to add that, so his comments were removed.
  6. Thank you for all of the interest, and we’ll be in touch again soon…

Did Honda Take The Right Action?

It’s not exactly a new lesson in social media that sometimes the fans can turn ugly and post negative comments. It’s well known that deleting negative comments will only enrage users, so how do you combat the negativity? My recommendation: don’t. Instead, embrace negativity, post open feedback and then move on. I’ve found that your community will eventually begin to defend your brand without you having to post any updates.

Even if they don’t, the users didn’t all become a fan of your page just to post negative updates. Negative sensationalism keeps the failing news industry alive and any smart marketer can learn from this. By embracing negative comments, you show that your company is open to feedback and are listening. While mob mentality can create a disaster, engaging users is a great way to ensure that the fans don’t become too unruly.

At the end of the day, Honda’s Facebook page for the new car, which has less than 6,000 fans, probably wouldn’t have received so much coverage if it were not for the negativity. What do you think Honda could have done better? What are the best practices for brands to engage unruly fans? Are unruly fans the same as trolls who shouldn’t be engaged?

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