As of January 2013 Facebook had over 1 billion monthly active users and 618 million daily users. With such a huge potential audience at your finger tips, simply signing your business up for Facebook page and waving your digital flag there may seem like enough.
But how do you use Facebook as a tool to truly grow your business in a tangible way? The trick is to make sure that the time you spend there directly ties into one of the following four strategic business activities.
1. Increase Leads and Sales
Increasing leads and sales is the top reason businesses join Facebook. If used strategically, Facebook can be an excellent promotional vehicle your business. You can post a link to your whitepaper, introduce a new product or promote an upcoming sale.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you put out a good mix of promotional and social content. As a general rule, no more than one out of every five posts at most should be about your products or services. There’s no faster way to lose Facebook Likes than to post a non-stop stream of promotional material. Remember the majority of your posts should simply provide interesting content that engages your followers.
2. Provide Customer Service
More and more, consumers turn to social media for customer service inquiries, and Facebook can be an excellent place to facilitate these interactions. Of course, providing customer service in front a live audience can have its perils if not handled appropriately, but engaging and answering your customers’ questions in a public space can also pay off as you demonstrate how engaged your business is, and that you care about their concerns.
- Here are a few guidelines to follow when providing customer service support on Facebook:
- Use a consistent voice when answering customer questions (avoid Facebook multi-personality disorders!)
- Answer customer questions in a timely manner (ideally with 24 hours). Answering a customer’s questions three weeks after it was asked it is a fast way to lose credibility.
- Be honest and genuine when dealing with customer complaint. Admit if you’ve made a mistake and you’ll look more human for it.
- Don’t delete a negative post! Address these posts directly and tactfully, and do whatever is reasonably possible help resolve your customer’s issues.
3. Build Brand Loyalty
Repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising are some of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business, but you have to earn them. If used correctly Facebook can help you bolster brand loyalty within your target market. One of the best ways to do this is by recognizing and rewarding loyal customers, and there are easy ways to do this on your Facebook page:
- Recognize your most loyal customers. A public “thank you” can go a long way for a loyal customer.
- Highlight a post or picture from one of your fans on a weekly basis. This is a great way to reward customers that are engaging with your Facebook page.
- Provide exclusive discounts to people who Like your page, and to your loyal followers.
4. Conduct Marketing Research
Your Facebook page is like a highly qualified and engaged focus group. It’s made up of customers who like your brand, are interested in your products and may even be willing to help you out for free. When you’re considering development of a new product or launching a marketing campaign, you can easily reach out to your followers for insights.
For example, before sinking a boatload of resources into developing a new product or service make sure you ask your Facebook fans their opinions. For example if you are considering a new dish at your restaurant ask your customers what they think first to help predict its potential success.
Facebook can also be used for advertising research. If you plan to launch a new marketing campaign, you can use Facebook as an initial testing ground. Well-intentioned marketing messages can sometimes be misinterpreted by a broader audience, so use Facebook to test the waters.