There are shit jobs and there are shit jobs and there’s being a community manager on a Facebook site. Like a Roman Centurion on Hadrian’s Wall, they’re all that stands between the barbarian horde and a brand.

I accidentally ‘browsed in’ to a certain company’s Facebook page a few days ago. The brand in question had obviously decided to start a ‘conversation’ with their chosen demographic, forgetting that anyone with a Facebook account and an attitude can essentially post comments – be they appropriate, inappropriate, completely off topic or about how they made $4000 every month with just a laptop and so can you.

The actual posts were innocuous enough. There were a couple of informative ones about the brand’s products and services but in an effort to keep people engaged, they’d decided to, you know, be all facebooky and post some fun stuff. Just like people do.

But brands aren’t people. They’re brands. And by asking people to write some ‘hilarious stories’ they enraged the horde and essentially got overrun, especially since most people had genuine grievances about customer service at the front end. You can get away with posting cat pictures if you have a decent product and, you know, don’t take 45 minutes to answer the fucking phone.

It reminded me of that scene in ‘The Hunger Games’ where Jennifer Lawrence and that blonde guy are on this futuristic train with Lenny Kravitz. They pull into ‘future city’ or whatever the fuck it’s called and are made instantly aware of the vast differences between the wealthy, corporate, garish metropolis of marble, waterfalls and people dressed in purple Vivienne Westwood wigs and the rat-eating backwater they come from. No matter how many crusts of bread the wigs threw at the people, they just demonstrated the vast chasms between them.

In this case, the Community Managers started politely answering questions and attempted in vain to start conversations offline instead of right there on Facebook, but by this time the comments section had got so long the original post had been long forgotten and the horde had turned on each other and were arguing about Gaza. And the more polite the representatives were, the more they tried to placate – the angrier everyone seemed to get.

It reminded me of a friend of mine who worked in a vitamin pill factory when she was a student. Her job was to sit by a noisy conveyor belt and pick out the misshapen ones from the unending river of yellow women’s multi. She said the only moment when she actually smiled there was when the company changed the pill colour to green. Everyone on the belt stood up, excitedly watching the green pills slowly making their way towards them. She earned minimum wage and there were Rats running around the floor. At the time, I thought that sounded pretty shit. But running a Facebook page for a brand that doesn’t get how social works is, well, just that bit shitter.

I actually remember the name of the vitamin pill company too. I might pop over to their Facebook page and tell them they’re a bunch of wankers.

 

This article originally appeared in Adnews