The old saying not to “mix business with pleasure” has the Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers of the working world shaking angry fists and muttering under their breath: “Facebook is a recreational tool! Why should we mix social sites with business???”
Why? Well the answer to that is that Facebook has over 500 MILLION users, reaching 57% of the U.S. adult internet population, according to eMarketer. There are very few venues that host such a large audience, and even fewer that offer the option to control your brand while still allowing interactive conversations with your customers. Imagine a press conference with 500 million attendees; can you fathom how nice it would be to have that reach, but how difficult it would be to field those questions? Many companies are scared of utilizing social media tools like Facebook for the very same reason people are nervous to hold press conferences; “How can we control what people say about us?” “How will we know how to respond?” and “What if, GASP, people don’t like us?”
In fact, Facebook is not as scary as many like to believe. While yes, some disgruntled past employees or jaded customers may find their way to your profile, these types of people would find their soap box eventually anyways. So why not provide an open interactive forum of which you have control, on one of the most vastly permeating sites on the web? After all, as consumer-conscious companies, we should want to hear both the good and the bad in order to foster meaningful conversations to better ourselves and our products as organizations, right? Read below for tips on how to leverage Facebook within your business. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you must soon realize Facebook is about so much more than “liking” statuses, collecting points in Farmville, or selecting your “profile pic”; it is a legitimate tool that can reap tangible benefits for your business.
· Create a complete, informative business profile for your company that holds all key information from your website, but in a less formal setting than your homepage. People will be consuming the same messages about your brand and products, but will likely have their guards down slightly on a social site where they don’t feel directly sold to.
· Utilize Facebook as a hub for links to your other web-based branding material. Link your company website, blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, etc. all to your Facebook page, as linking boosts search engine optimization. In addition to direct links, you can also install feeds on your Facebook page directly from your other social media outlets, keeping all of the information and updates syndicated.
· Posting pictures and videos of internal employees or actual consumers on your page can humanize your brand. People are more inclined to like, and trust, a brand when they can see and relate to the faces behind it.
· Foster meaningful conversations about your products, services, or industry in general. Respond to customer inquiries promptly and direct them to contacts to receive more information. If you receive a negative comment, you can remove it if it is inappropriate. However, consider the value of positively addressing a customer’s issue in a public setting. Customers know there is no such thing as a perfect company, so it shows conflict resolution and customer service when you can provide an answer to a problem a customer, and likely others, may be having.
· Post company updates like website redesigns, new offices, and internal promotions. This will make your company look vibrant and active; companies that have a buzz are assumed to have growing and staying power.
· You can also set up surveys or polls on your Facebook page to actually solicit feedback on issues where you want specific answers from the consumers directly.
· Join industry-related groups or “like” related companies so you can follow their updates and conversations to keep up on competitor and trade information.