Facebook, a great way to communicate and a great way to get answers. For those wanting or planing a trip on the North Coast 500, Facebook is one of the first resources they head to and with many Facebook pages available the help and advice can seem 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 it. The 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 it. But life is never that easy, there is always one sometimes more 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 question.
The Official North Coast 500 has its own page and that being the most popular with virtually 50,000 followers. To be honest it is not the best Facebook page out there as it lacks a personal experience with little scope to ask that question you need an answer to and receive a fast response as the other pages do. Much like its website they see to concentrate on their merchandise and working partners and lack in real local input but there is a lot of great information and advice to be found in the pages.
Over that past two years some of these pages have grown quite a considerable following with one now exceeding 20,000 followers. The downside is the abuse received by potential visitors, it 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 visitors. There are Facebook pages which are great and very friendly and helpful. The 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 available. For 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 Page. This 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 Page. We have spoken to quite a few people who have experienced what they described as negative comments to questions they have asked. Many 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 email asking for answers to some of the abuse only for them to be told there were in fact on a Non Official Page. There are many great posts and many folk on the page 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 comments. A 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 themselves. But it is the constant online abuse that even makes people who were looking for help in planning their trip to change there minds and go elsewhere. The 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.
Here 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 Highlands. Everyday, 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 everything. All 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 dialogue. We ourselves can help by spreading the word that the page are not official, spread the word about the good ones but also let people know about the bad ones, and hopefully come time only the good remain. It takes second to report to Facebook themselves about bad comments, you can contact the Admin although I would assume this would have little effect. Below are a list of Pages we Highly Recommend: