Making Facebook Useful to Your Customers

 

August 4, 2016

Facebook is the reigning king of social media. With 1.65 Billion active users around the world, there is no larger single market to promote your company. Your customers are there on Facebook waiting to hear from you. All you have to do is find them and give them an avenue to discuss, share, and promote your products/services for you.

Easier said than done.

Marketing and Social Media Consultant, Jay Baer, describes in his book “Youtility” that when your company posts on social media, and Facebook in particular, you are vying for your customer’s attention against some stiff competition. In the same feed as your social media marketing are posts from the user’s friends and family. You need to somehow find a way to become more interesting or, as he would argue, more useful than the viewer’s friends and family.

There are a million ways to accomplish this, but all of them start with a fundamental understanding of what Facebook is and isn’t for. From there, it’s just a matter of strategy and follow-through.

 

What about Google+?

Many of the strategies and concepts concerning Facebook are equally applicable to Google+. Both platforms are targeting the same niche in the market and have similar functionality. The primary difference between Facebook and Google+ is audience. Generally speaking, Facebook has more users, a wider audience, and higher participation for most industries. However, that is not always the case. Do a little research on your part and find where your audience is stronger.

 

Why Are Consumers on Facebook in the First Place?  

Facebook is…

…a social platform that allows you, as a user, to share photos, videos, links, articles, or whatever you like to a select audience. It is an open forum of ideas and discussion. It is an online photo album. It is a way for people to stay in touch with those that they love, those that they admire, and to reconnect with those whom they have lost touch.

Facebook is not…

…a television commercial.

 

Facebook Strategy

Your strategy on Facebook must mirror its purpose. Many companies make the mistake of treating their Facebook page as if it were strictly an advertising platform. They only post about products, coupons, special offers, money-saving deals, and the like.

There are two problems with that strategy:
Conflicts with the Purpose of Facebook
First, it directly conflicts with the whole reason people are on Facebook in the first place. They are on Facebook for recreation, news, and connections—not to shop. By all means, post advertising content. You are a business after all. Advertising just cannot be the entirety of even the majority your posts, or people will lose interest.

Facebook Filters User’s Feeds
Facebook’s algorithm filters out pages and people from the user’s feed that they don’t seem interested in. If a user has not recently clicked or interacted with a post from a particular friend or followed page, that friend or page will begin to appear less and less on the user’s feed. Eventually, they won’t show up at all. This is important for businesses, because if you cannot sustain consistent attention and interaction from your fan base, your posts will stop reaching your audience. Even if you have 15,000 fans, your actual post reach may dwindle to just a couple dozen people.

If you are only posting salesy content, you’ll quickly find yourself posting to a ghost town.

The point of your company Facebook page is to create a connection between your brand and the consumer. Post interesting articles relevant to your business, industry news, videos, and other blogs. Have a sense of humor, and create content that you would click on if you were a fan of the page.

 

Facebook Customer Service: The Catch-22 of Social Media

The other side of the social media coin is customer service, and this can be a challenge for some companies to fully embrace.

Social media is so popular that modern businesses don’t have a choice but to commit resources to building, maintaining, and moderating a social media presence. On the one hand, it provides the perfect medium to share company updates, new products, and target promotion to people who actually care about your company. It’s fast. It’s agile. It’s interactive. Magazines, newspapers, radio, and television ads all operate on an educated guess that fans of your company will be at the right place and the right time to see your promotions.

On Facebook, there is no guessing. Your audience is a collection of people who told you directly that, “I want to know more about your company.” There isn’t a more powerful way to reach your audience than that. Plus, old media could never create the kind of real connection you can foster through social media.

Yet, on the other hand, Facebook is a public forum. While a glowing review by a fan can inspire more to try your company, a negative one can just as easily dissuade them. The first rule to social media is to not fear criticism, but to address it.

So, social media is the modern Catch-22. If you create a social media presence, people will publicly post negative stories about your company, but if you don’t have a social media account, you can’t respond to the negative reviews people publicly post about your company.

However, every negative review gives your company an opportunity to demonstrate its integrity, to show how it corrects its mistakes.

 

Tips for Responding to Your Customers

It happened. One of your customers wrote a nasty review publicly in an open Facebook group, in a private message, or as a comment on one of your posts. It’s nasty. It’s mean-spirited. Worst of all, it’s true. The company screwed up and made a mistake. What do you do?

  • Don’t Delete the Negative Post
    Never delete a negative comment. First, it assures that you have lost that customer forever. Second, it creates a culture of censorship on your Facebook page. Soon, you’ll start seeing comments that end with, “…and I know this comment is going to be deleted by the admins.” Deleting comments will do more harm than good.
  • Respond Quickly
    No matter what the complaint is, your company needs to respond as soon as possible. You need to control the perception of these events as best you can.
  • Users Can Private Message You and Not the Other Way Around
    Don’t ask the customer to private message you. As much as is appropriate, address the situation publicly. It shows the rest of the community that you are trying your best to solve the problem. Furthermore, a company Facebook page can only private message users that have messaged them first.
  • Give Your Fans Updates
    Let your fans know if there is a system error or larger problem at play. If a number of fans are all complaining the same thing, respond to each individually, and then create a general post about the issue and what your team is doing to correct the situation.

 

Make Yourself Comfortable. Facebook and Social Media Are Here to Stay

Social media does not need to be a hassle. By following simple principles and concepts you can find and grow a community of your most loyal fans. Once established, your Facebook followers can become brand ambassadors who share your content, like your posts, and sing your praises across the internet.

The sooner you start your Facebook initiative, the sooner you can take advantage of the massive potential and nip negative online criticism in the bud. Facebook gained two hundred million new users last year and is poised to continue growing. It’s not going to go away any time soon—you might as well make yourself comfortable.

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