Monday, February 20, 2012
Facebook is changing the way many businesses interact with their customers and promote their company. It is very exciting to have a tool that costs nothing but is powerful and gives the opportunity to reach hundreds, thousands, even millions. It isn’t just big brands that are finding success on Facebook, even small mom and pop stores are unleashing the potential to reach new customers in their community.
There are many ways to use Facebook for business and since the resource is free it’s important to utilize the sites full potential. I hope that the following list gives you some great ideas for your own business Facebook use.
#1 Forum or Community Creation
The wall of your business Facebook page can be used as a community facilitator. It is a great way to promote a local organization or non-profit to allow members to communicate with each other and share information. You could use this to plan events, coordinate meetings, assign tasks and much more.
#2 Customer Service
Regardless of how you plan on using Facebook for business, you will be doing some customer service. The most likely way this will happen is someone asking a question on your wall; remember everyone can see your response so put some thought into it. There is a possibility that complaints will be posted to your wall. Even if you feel these are unjustified, do not delete them but instead provide some empathy and make a reasonable offer to fix the problem.
#3 Facilitate Word of Mouth Marketing
One of the oldest and most powerful forms of marketing is word of mouth. Before social media there weren’t many ways to generate this kind of promotion, the two best were providing great products or services and asking for referrals. With social media, especially Facebook, your customers are given a perfect platform to easily share a business they enjoy and purchase from. If you have a good relationship with your customers don’t be afraid to ask them to click the share button, that one simple task can be a powerful growth tool.
#4 Research and Development
This is a great way to involve your customers and make them feel more connected to your brand. Asking questions like ‘What products should we be making?’ or ‘How often do you need an xyz?’ can bring in valuable information and help determine the direction your company should be taking. You can post pictures or videos of products being developed (keep in mind this is public) and ask for opinions or advice before final production.
#5 Product Testing
Although similar to #4 you can take your product feedback even further and utilize your fans as a test panel. Posting pictures, videos, details and specific questions can generate a lot of feedback from people genuinely interested in what you are making. Another benefit of this is you might develop some pre-release word of mouth promotion from your fans. If you want even more direct involvement, send a prototype of your product to a select number of Facebook fans and ask them to share feedback on your page.
#6 Business Hours
This one is pretty simple and straight forward. You have business hours, let the public know. There is a place to put this basic information on the info tab of your business page, it’s also important to post updates on your wall for reminders. For small business owners this can be very useful, if you have to leave for an emergency appointment just make a quick out of office note on your Facebook wall.
#7 Press Releases
It’s a good idea to write a press release whenever you have some exciting business news to share. More businesses are starting to see the benefit of putting Facebook links on their press releases. This link is a recognized and trusted method for customers to connect with you. Don’t stop there though, after you make the press release share it on your Facebook page as well and maybe you’ll see some additional exposure.
#8 Product or Service Catalogue
A Facebook business page can be customized in so many ways and is a great extension of your website to sell products or services. Whether using it to showcase or directly sell your products it can’t hurt to have more exposure. There are many apps available to help create custom page tabs for Facebook. ShortStack is a great example of an app that has easy to use widgets for displaying products. If you run a services company, you can still use these functions to display positive feedback from clients or a business portfolio.
#9 Employee Recognition
Facebook is mostly used to engage with customers but don’t forget it can be used to celebrate the accomplishments of your employees. It’s hard to dislike positive content so think about posting pictures of a birthday your office celebrated or a special event. You can share special awards or promotions on your business page that just might make your employees day, happy employees are more productive.
#10 Company Announcement
Similar to a press release, Facebook pages can be used to announce positive company changes or announcements. Sharing a new partnership with another local business that benefits your customers will be appreciated. You could also share any community events you are participating in or would like to start.
#11 Coordinate Special Events
If you took advantage of #10 and announced a special event then you will need some help with coordination. A temporary custom tab on your page could provide all of the necessary information such as time, location, event details, and parking as well as facilitate easy sharing. If you have a dedicated social media employee, they can manage questions that come up on your wall during the event; this person should also monitor Twitter.
#12 Community Service
It is important for businesses to show how they participate in the local community and a popular way to do this is through community service. Creating a Facebook event for a community service activity is a great way to involve customers and other local businesses in what you are doing. These types of events will give you positive exposure in the community and help to build trusting and engaging fans.
Running a contest on Facebook is one of the most common ways to increase visibility and grow your community. You can make a contest as simple or as complicated as you want and either run it on your wall or with special Facebook apps. One issue that you might face when running a contest is receiving entries from people that that have no interest in joining your community. It is nice to see a boost of hundreds or thousands of likes on your page, but later down the road you might see a drop in engagement or the dreaded ‘unlike’. Keep this information in mind and try not to overuse contests.
#14 Email Newsletter
Email is still a preferred method of communication for many people so adding an email list and newsletter to your business will increase your potential reach. A newsletter can be used to share many of the things covered in this list like special events, press releases, community service, and new products or services. If you want to try getting an email list started, it is important to make sign-up very easy. Using a software service such as MailChimp allows you to add a simple sign up form to your Facebook business page and also get some great tools for creating the newsletter.
#15 Check-in Deals
Facebook has taken a page from the Foursquare book and allows people to check-in to a business using the mobile Facebook app on their smart phone. To encourage people to use this tool and visit your business more often you can create a check-in deal for your page. This can be used to give a special offer to the customer when they visit the first time or also to create a loyalty program where the reward is given after a certain check-in number is reached.
Posted by: Matt Hamilton