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frustrated biting computerWe’ve seen it all too often;  a brand or company releases a Canadian Coupon or a FREEBiE for their facebook fans and then the administration end up being lambasted by unsatisfied fans who weren’t able to snag one, or print one, or redeem one, or they got a paper cut from the coupon (well, maybe not the latter, but you get the idea).   This blog post was inspired by the recent negative banter on the Cinnabon Canada facebook page which resulted in the brand feeling the need to post a reminder that they’re human!

“We’re not perfect, but we’re open to learning, and we’re lucky we have people who like us enough to help us get better.  Many thanks, Cinnabon Canada

The Cinnabon Canada situation centered around customer service, more specifically the importance of putting extra effort into professional and courteous tone of voice on facebook.  It must be difficult for brand facebook page administrators to bite their tongue (or laptops! Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net) when being pelted with virtual tomatoes.  And we need to keep those page admin on our side since they’re the one’s most likely to suggest a coupon campaign when collaborating with the brand’s marketing team.  

Of course I can appreciate how frustrating it is to miss out on a coupon that you’ve been stalking, especially if you’ve “hung out” on a brand’s facebook page for an extended amount of time waiting for the offer to go LIVE.  And seeing all of those “thanks, got it!” comments pop up on the feed while you’re being trampled in the stampede adds insult to injury.   Unlike Thumper’s mom who is credited with the whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say ….” schtick, I don’t endorse complete silence when we’ve got legitimate beefs or concerns, but believe that a little bit of diplomacy goes a long way.  

Here’s what I think are  productive and unproductive responses in these types of situations:

Scenario:  You didn’t get 1 of the 200 coupons being offered on a facebook blitz

  • Productive Response:  post a lighthearted comment on the giveaway thread  on the brand’s facebook page.  “Drats, missed it this time!  Hope there will be another giveaway soon!”.  This reinforces how much we appreciate the offer and lets the brand page administration gauge the size of their active fan base.  With any luck, they’ll offer more coupons next time!
  • Unproductive Response:  unliking the brand page, and even worse, posting a comment to announce that you’ve unliked the page!  How will you find out if they decide to offer more coupons or FREEBiES?  And if a brand’s facebook community actually shrinks after an offer, you can bet that the brand (and the admin from other brands who might be taking notes) will think twice about running another facebook coupon campaign … brands love seeing their facebook fan numbers grow, not shrink!

Scenario: You’re having technical difficulties accessing or printing the coupon on a brand’s facebook page

  • Productive Response: read through the existing comments under the offer post to see if others are having the same issue and if the brand page administration have offered any tips/advice.  Check the “posts by others” tab for the same thing.  If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, post a courteous comment (either in the offer comments or start a new thread) explaining your difficulty e.g. “I’m using Internet Explorer and get a blank screen after hitting submit.  Any tips for getting through?”  
  • Unproductive Response: posting a comment that you will never give business to the brand again since they can’t even get their coupons running smoothly.  Facebook applications are incredibly finicky to design and the administrators can’t possibly plan for every possible scenario (stampedes of anxious fans, firewalls in our computers, etc.).  Boycotting a brand over not getting a discount or FREEBiE strikes me as an excessive over-reaction, gives couponers a bad reputation as sour-grapes complainers, and can only serve to make brands reluctant about offering coupons and FREEBiES via facebook.  

Scenario:  a coupon or FREEBiE isn’t valid or offered in your city/province/region

  • Productive Response:  do a little bit of research.  If a store, brand, or product is only available in certain areas, there is no reason for the coupon/offer to be available to everyone.  It costs money to mail out offers, afterall, and brands are well aware of the negative feedback they’ll receive on facebook if fans go to the effort to print out a coupon that they can’t even redeem.  If you would like clarification, consider posting a constructive question on the brand’s facebook page:  “do you have any sister companies in Ontario?  I’d love to try your product!”  
  • Unproductive Response:  “Not fair”.  We need to give brands the benefit of the doubt and trust that they’ve make their offers as fair and wide-reaching as feasible.  If you’re going to be travelling to an area where a specific coupon is valid, but you’re not able to order/print one, consider adding it to your wishlist on CouponSpare …. take advantage of the Canada wide coupon trading community!

Scenario:  a coupon or contest is “Not valid in Quebec”.  This scenario deserves it’s own blog post.  To touch on it briefly though, it’s important to keep in mind that brands, products and companies aren’t “Not Quebec Friendly”, it’s in fact the Quebec provincial regulations that are “Not Quebec Friendly.”  And because of the provincial regulations, many contests and all pharmaceutical coupons are not available to residents of Quebec, with risk of fine and penalty to the brand/company for not adhering to the regulations.

  • Productive Response:  Drop a line on the brand comment wall or contact the company directly to ask about the possibility of a mail-in-rebate in lieu of manufacturer’s coupon.
  • Unproductive Response:  posting another “Not QC friendly 🙁 ” in the comments.  While it’s nice to give fellow facebook fans a headz-up that they may not be eligible to participate in an offer, I can’t help but think that the brand’s page administration must feel a little attacked when fans point out the obvious, and point out something that cannot be changed.  Instead, consider a more friendly approach, “As a Quebec resident, I can’t enter this one.  But good luck to those who do … this sounds like a fab prize!”

facebook thank you graphicBrands control coupons.  They produce them, send them out (to stores as tear pads, or directly to consumers through their websites, facebook pages, or via companies like WebSaver, Save.ca and GoCoupons), and brands reimburse stores who submit the coupons after we’ve redeemed them.  The Canadian Coupons community spends a lot of time sharing tips on our facebook page about how to redeem coupons in stores, and it’s important for us to put the same energy into maintaining a good couponing relationship with the brands we deal with, as well.   After all, as Cinnabon Canada reminded us last week, brands are human, toO!

Have you hugged (err posted a thank you note on a facebook wall of) a brand lately?!

Happy Couponing!

Christa Clips ~ May 13, 2013

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