I get it.
You don’t see the point. College kids posting their next keg party, high school students lamenting about the three girls who wore the same dress to the prom last weekend and the nerds (gasp) who post things about how the newest Call of Duty is the best game ever and there will never be another thing better. (Remember when we thought that about Nintendo’s Duck Hunt?)
It’s not that Facebook. That was SOOO 5 years ago. Facebook has evolved into a community of over 400 million people who communicate with each other, pass along information and more importantly to you – talk about your business.
Right now, somewhere on Facebook, “Gertrude” is talking about the good (or even worse, the bad) experience that they had this afternoon at your store. She just posted out there for their 100 friends. What’s 100 people? Most of her friends don’t even live near your store.
But what if she posted something in a clever way that her cousin Joseph decided to comment on it? That means, not only did Gertrude’s 100 friends read the comment, Joseph’s 300 friends get to see that message. You can see how this could become a nightmare. Quick.
Any 1st year PR student would be able to tell you that getting in front of the story is one of the best things you can do. How can you communicate with Gertrude when you didn’t even know she wasn’t happy? How can you tell her that you appreciate her business and want to make it up to her in any way possible? You can’t. You aren’t on Facebook to hear her.
If you have a website and an email account, she could contact you via that. (What’s that, you don’t have that either? – We need to have a chat..) But, the more likely scenario, is that when she walks out your door, the first thing she will do is:
After that, she’s probably vented-out and you won’t hear from her directly ever again – but the ramifications of her sending that message out and you not responding is a silent killer.
Imagine you are back in high school and the rumor mill is running behind your back about the ‘Kick Me’ sign on your back. You’d never get a date again if you weren’t given the chance to fix the problem and move on. Facebook is the rumor mill, and you can be a part of it.
If you had a Facebook Fan Page set up for your business, Gertrude could have left the comment on your page – for you to directly respond to, but also, for everyone to see. (I know what you are thinking. It’s sometimes ok to allow a customer to bash you publicly, as long as you are willing to make it right.) If you aren’t ready to handle that – grow thicker skin. No one is perfect. But your customers want to see the good and they want to see how you handle the bad.
They know you aren’t perfect, but they also want to know that if they bring their friends to your establishment, they are going to be cared about & taken care of. They want to know there isn’t just a cog behind the scenes putting out a generic product or service. It’s nice to know that there is an actual person behind the curtain, making sure every customer has a great experience – you.
You will come out looking great on the other end when everyone sees how you handle a crisis. It makes your company seem more grounded, more real. Who hasn’t had a bad experience at a restaurant, only to have the manager/owner make it up and now you recommend the place to anyone who will listen. Not even considering the fact that if you didn’t have a medium like Facebook available, these customers just go on ranting about how bad things are and don’t even give you the opportunity to respond.
Start listening to your customers on their terms, because then, and only then, can you start building real relationships that results in a happier customer base.
Of course, quashing bad vibes about your business is just a part of why you should be on Facebook (or Twitter, for that matter).
Having your information handy for the 400 million, which last I counted (pending 2010 census results) is more people than live in this country. Can you imagine not talking to 400 million people, some of which are people that are walking or driving by your business while you read this? Still don’t have the time?
If you are telling me that you don’t have 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week to talk DIRECTLY to your customers, you shouldn’t be in a business that deals with people. How valuable is that customer that sees you on a 3-5 times a week sending out positive messages and showing true appreciation for their business. Those customers are your living, breathing, Facebooking advertisement. And all it costs is a little bit of time.
There are so many more reasons to have a Facebook Fan Page for your business, and if you want to discuss them further – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk.
And once you get on there, let’s be friends. No hard feelings about it taking so long for you to join the party: