Three reasons to love Facebook even if you hate it
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve recognised that, love it or hate it, Facebook is a busy metaphorical high street, and you want to try to tap into it in order to drive brand awareness, customer support or sales… take your pick.
A lot of people, myself included, feel ambivalent about Facebook. It’s a giant walled garden, keen to draw people in and keep them inside as often and for as long as possible.
On the latter it really does this rather well with lots of data suggesting that Facebook, more so than other social media services, enjoys a lot of user time inside those walls. Way back in early 2011 one media source reported that half the UK adult population was on Facebook. And recent statistics from Ipsos MRBI show that 58 percent of Irish Facebook users access the site daily. That’s why anyone running a business, in particular those focussed on consumers, ought to think again about how they can exploit this busy virtual high street — even if they have no love for Mr Zuckerberg’s dot com Frankenbook.
So here are my top tips on why business owners need to be Facebook friendly (or at least aware):
1. Facebook spreads the word about your product or consumer-focused service
If you sell a product or service, who do you sell it to? If it’s a very specialised B2B offering then it’s likely you really are wasting time with Facebook and you’d be better off focussing your efforts on business network LinkedIn, for example.
If, however, your customers are the great unwashed public (or sections of it – either demographic or geographic) then it’s probably a good idea for your company to set up shop on Facebook Street. To follow that analogy, what you might call a shop front, Facebook calls a Page. You can create Facebook Pages per product/service or for your whole offering (you’ll probably do the latter; generally it’s big FMCG and fashion brands that create dedicated brand pages.)
2. Your smartphone-using customers are probably using the Facebook app
More and more people are relying on the web to not only help find and make purchasing decisions but are doing so in increasing numbers via smartphones and apps. If you create a Facebook Page for your company, ipso facto you create a page which can also pop up on your customer’s iPhone or Smart-thing Facebook app or mobile browser. Your company can remain part of the conversation, rather than off on some web and PC only browser-based channel.
Now that might not seem all that compelling at the moment, but as more and more people migrate to mobile apps and smartphone-based purchasing decisions, it would be foolhardy to rely only on reaching customers through the open web (much as I do prefer the web myself).
3. Facebook is about keeping customers, not just getting them
Facebook is a useful platform for maintaining contact AFTER a sale, answering questions that can make the customer’s experience of you better and potentially building a more human, less transaction-focused relationship with that customer. In short, Facebook can help your customers like you. And because each person on Facebook has their own network of contacts, when they ‘like’ your Page, their friends will also see this. It also provides you with permission to continue a dialogue with this person beyond the sale of your product or service.
My key Facebook Takeaway Tips:
- Create a Page (not a group) for your business. In practice there isn’t an enormous amount of difference between the two but Facebook says that Pages are more appropriate for “organizations to broadcast information to their fans.”
- Once you have a company Page, make sure you use the “Page” identity that goes with it. When you post updates to any Facebook pages, including your own, be careful to post as your Page’s identity and not under your personal Facebook identity. Look for the helpful tip at the top of Facebook that will say something like “You are posting, commenting and liking as [pagename].”
- Take time to ‘like’ other Pages for companies providing complementary services to your own. In particular, focus on ones that also appeal to the same demographic and geographic profile you are targeting. And don’t forget to ‘like’ as your own company Page identity rather than your personal identity.
- Don’t treat Facebook as a place to incessantly announce facts about yourself and your offers. Act like a human. Answer open-ended questions. Find alternative ways to be helpful or interesting to your customers – liking or sharing information your customers might find helpful, for example, even if it doesn’t end up in a sale for you.
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