Facebook Naughty or Nice

Facebook a great way to communicate and a great way to get answersFor those wanting or planing a trip on the North Coast 500 Facebook is one of the first resources they head to. With all the Facebook pages the help available is endless. With all these pages and all the help especially from those who live on the route it makes planning a trip easy and enjoyable by communicating with those who have the knowledge and are prepared to share itThe idea is simple but is it that simple and enjoyable communicating with others to get the information you need

First let us look at some of the background to all this Facebook stuff Sadly like most things online some of these Facebook pages are not as helpful or nice as they seem. All these pages have an "Admin" and it is basically their job to ensure the page is run correctly. It is their page and they are the Management and should be managing itBut life is never that easy there is always someone that is willing to have bit of fun at your expense. And yes Facebook pages for the North Coast 500 are not exempt from a certain amount of idiots prepared to make things difficult and having you wish you had never asked an apparent innocent questionThe Official North Coast 500 has its own page and that being the most popular with virtually 50000 followers. To be honest it is not the best Facebook page out there for the NC500 route it should be but it lacks a personal experience with little scope for you to ask that question you need an answer to and receive a fast response as the other pages doMuch like its website they see to concentrate on their merchandise and working partners and lacks real local input as most of their partners are large companies with one interest on the Route which is to gain profitIt is a real shame that the people who promote the route and are basically responsible for the success have forgotten the local on the route. There is a fair bit of resentment from a number of locals towards the 'Official NC500' and I can understand whyI honestly believe that as the creators of the route they need to change their focus or they risk a real backlash from the people they actually are trying to promoteThe North Coast 500 online website and their Facebook page does have a lot of good help advice and information available but as we said it lacks the personal input

The trouble with Facebook much like most things online is that it is open to abuse and the NC500 Facebook fan pages are certainly one of themThe North Coast 500 has over the last 2 years tried to contact the admins of as many of these 'Fan' pages over one major issue that they haveThe terms "The North Coast 500" and "NC500" are both trademarks of the said company. Like it or not it is an offence to use these wording online. We ourselves launched our website using the title NC500 on our web address and had to remove it when they gained the use of the TrademarkThe legalities of Trademarks is a minefield and one issue we don't intend to get in toSimply put for someone to use these names on the title of a Facebook page is really an infringement of the said trademark.  The Official North Coast 500 team have tried to compromise with some and to try and find a working alternative. Unfortunately the North Coast 500 have said that very few are willing to co-operate and in-fact the response has been woefulIt appears that these people are unwilling to co-operate 'Nicely' with the Official folk and hence the reason they allow so much abuse to continueIt would be great if the NC500 allowed Facebook pages that they approve of to carry an official logo so that visitors to these pages know it is an official partner and recognised by the NC500. Or they could easily highlight Pages they endorse and state any others are not endorsed by them. At least this way they will remove themselves from some of the abuse that goes on on some of the pages. Many people are initially taken in that they are on the 'Real' NC500 page when in fact they are not

Over that past two years some of these pages have grown quite a considerable following with one now over 20000 followers. The downside is the abuse received by potential visitors can be shocking to say the Least. When it escalates in to a war of words on some the posts some Admins are either slow to act or allow the post and abuse to continue which leaves a bad and unwanted feeling in potential visitorsThere are Facebook pages which are great and very friendly and helpfulThe ones we think are great we show at the bottom of each of our web pages to try and help drive people to the Best ones availableFor visitors to get to a Facebook page most would initially search for North Coast 500 or NC500 on Facebook. either of these searches brings up a virtually endless list of pages. Search for NC500 would bring you to an 'Unofficial' page which has the largest number of followers with exception of the Official PageThis page is not alone but probably the best example of a poorly run page. They do have a disclaimer pinned to the top of their page but like most pages very few would take note.  Many visitors would initially assume this is the Official PageWe have spoken to quite a few people who have experienced what they described as negative comments to questions they have askedMany also assumed that they were on the 'Official' NC500 page and it wasn't until later that they realised it was anon Official one.  The North Coast 500 have said that they receive emails asking for answers to some of the abuse only for them to be told there were in fact on a Non Official PageThere are many great posts and many folk on the pages willing to help but like most things they have one downside apart from themselves and that is the minority who love nothing better than being a kind of NC500 Troll and answering genuine question from visitors by posting the most ridiculous and at times quite personal and hurtful commentsA lot of these pages also have from time to time allowed links to non NC500 pages that sell illegal merchandise. We ourselves are aware of at least two that are currently selling merchandise cheaper than the North Coast 500 themselvesHow can these Facebook pages claim to be pro North Coast 500 when they allow all this abuse against potential visitors to go on with little of no intervention at allAnd it is the constant online abuse that even makes people who were looking for help in planning their trip change there minds and go elsewhereThe biggest problem is that some locals use these pages as platform to blame the visitors for everything from slow drivers to badly parked vehicles to litter to damage to property to everything you can think of. It is like thousands of people descending on the Highlands with one thing in mind and that is to cause utter mayhem. They really need to open their eyes and realise that with an influx of tourists which is good for any economy will and does change things what problems they have in the area is the same the World overAbuse is certainly not the way although sadly I feel some of these people have little else to do than look for the reactions on facebook and are as far as we are concerned lacking in something in their own livesHere are just some of the examples from the last week or so

These minority individuals should travel themselves and they will notice one thing in common the problems they encounter at home happens all over the World none of the problems they mention is unique to the HighlandsEveryday there is always at least one post where abuse will be lashed out at visitors. These individuals use it as a platform to blame visitors for everythingAll my living life I have seen these problems all over not just the Highlands. Yes slow drivers I meet virtually everyday but I meet them where ever I go

How to get these folk off such pages is not easy but it has to start with the Admins of these pages. They also need to co-operate with the Official NC500 who are certainly not against these pages but would like some type of dialogueWe ourselves can help by spreading the word that these pages are not official but also spread the word about the good ones and let people know about the bad ones and hopefully come time only the good remainBelow are a list of Pages we Highly Recommend and maybe you know othersSome of the worst offenders are the largest pages with the biggest following the NC500 is definitely the worst offender and folk should try using the ones below and unless they poor ones up their game and take action against the individuals on their pages or unless the 'Real' North Coast 500 get them shut downWe are sure that we will get a certain amount of Flak for this story but sadly some people need to know that you can't use strong words or abuse to target an individual that was simply asking a question or seeking advice.  If no one wants to say it We WillWe certainly recommend the followingNC500 - Exploring the EastNC500 Things to See and DoNC500 by MotorhomeNC500 Accommodation Sight and TipsNC500 Places to Stay and EatFinally anyone who wants to use the Name North Coast 500 or the Term NC500 must be made aware that it is a Trademark of the company and any use without their blessing is unlawful and an infringement of the trademark Laws.  I am sure that those at the North Coast 500 are more than willing to work with Facebook pages dedicated to the route so give them a call or email them and operate with their blessing "