Facebook has become a primary means of communicating with customers. Everything from deals and discounts to “crisis communications” like store closings and apologies. Brands big and small have a presence on Facebook and they all use that presence in a variety of ways. Lately I’ve been hearing all kinds of tips for brands on Facebook, I’m going to give you my suggestions based on my experiences. As with everything on this blog, these are simply my opinions, they aren’t going to work for everyone, but they are what are working for me.
1. Be Personal
I read an article recently about the best brands on Twitter, the quote that stood out most for me was:
“Be a person first, and a company second.”
Think of your Facebook page as a way for you to communicate conversationally with your customers. While it can be a valuable tool for getting the message out about deals and discounts, it can also be an exciting and interactive way for you to get to know more about your customers – or at least the ones who are fans of your brand (and important thing to keep in mind). Being personal means associating the brand page with the person who maintains it. I do this by “signing” all of my comments. This lets people know that there is a real person on the other end of this thing, who is actually listening to what they’re saying. It helps to develop a personal connection with your customers. Developing that personal connection helps to foster that “long term value” customer everyone is seeking. Don’t make Facebook transactional — make it personal.
2. Know Your Audience
Facebook has a number of valuable analytics tools; the one I find to most useful to me when working with my “internal customers” (people within my organization who would like their message on Facebook) is the information about demographics. I can see exactly who my audience is and tailor my message to them. Specifically, for example, if my Facebook fan base is made up primarily of women ages 25-45, I’m probably not going to sell them a gaming system directly, but I might remind them that someone in their family might want one as a gift. I’m thinking of them as the purchase decision makers, not the influencers. If I’m talking to men ages 18-25, I might point out the great deals on gaming systems and provide them with a way to share those deals with the person who they think will be making the purchase. It’s essentially the same message “buy a gaming system”, but I’m tailoring the message to my audience. Overall, its valuable to address your message to the people you know are listening.
3. Respond and React
People are going to come to Facebook to comment about your brand, some of these comments will be positive; many of them will be negative. Facebook gives your customers a voice that they haven’t had since the days of the family owned store, where if you had an issue, you could just go to the store owner. Now, they can come to a public forum and voice both their positive comments and their complaints. It’s important that you address both. If someone compliments your brand, make sure you respond so that they know you’re listening and you heard their comments and appreciate them. This will encourage other people with nice things to ay about you to post them as well; again, this is another way to create a personal relationship with your customers. If someone comes to your brand with a complaint, don’t just respond: react. I comment on every negative post, and if I can, I also reach out to the customer directly and try to address their concerns. I have created a special profile that is tied to my corporate email address and has limited personal information. I use this profile to directly reach out to customers with issues and try to help resolve them. The number one thing I hear from customers I help is “I’m just glad there’s someone listening who cares.” If I can’t respond to a customer directly (due to privacy settings), I direct them to a special customer service email address that they can reach out to for help. Being direct goes a long way to continuing to develop that customer relationship.
4. Have Fun
Not everything I do on the fan page I maintain is all business. During the holidays specifically I asked a lot of easy to answer fun questions that resulted in a lot of customer engagement. One example was:
“Parents, where do you hide your kids Christmas gifts?”
That post along received about 500 comments. It was a simple question, easy to answer and a fun conversation between the brand and the customer. The most popular question I asked during the holidays was both fun and beneficial to the brand. I asked:
“What is your favorite Christmas movie?”
The far and away winner was “A Christmas Story” — the question received over 700 responses. The next day, I worked with our Online Business Unit to discount the DVD to $10 and was able to post the discounted product to Facebook be 4pm the next day. This kind of fun question turned into an opportunity to give our customers a product they wanted at a discounted price.
5. Try New Things
Because Facebook is such a new platform (in the grand scheme of marketing channels), it affords you an opportunity to try new things with your customers that you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to because of cost or lack of support from the enterprise. An example of this for us was a photo album of some of our most popular Jewelry products. We showcased 18 of our most popular products with direct links to their pages on our ecommerce platform. This allowed our customer to “shop” directly from Facebook and it foster conversations about our Jewelry line. IT also allowed us to feature some “rich” content in the form of photos. This is just one of the many ways we have experimented with Facebook. Not all of your ideas are going to be well received; some won’t get any reaction at all. Keep in mind anytime you’re trying something new, does it help you build better customer relationships?
These are just some of the best practices I use to keep the content on the Facebook pages I maintain, fresh and interesting for the audience. Do you have any best practices you’d like to share?