Welcome back to our back-to-basics series for the SMB marketer... our adjusted “how to” (or perhaps” how not to”) handle the essentials now that 2017 is here. This time we’re taking a look at Facebook to see what’s changed and to suggest how you might consider adjusting what you’re up to. And we’re off …
Sort of… For a long time, nearly an eon in marketing terms, Facebook was a place to market for free; a digital bulletin board with ridiculous reach and near instantaneous feedback. The game was to grab as many friends/likes as you could and then, just like [insert your fave MLM here] everybody saw everybody else’s stuff and you could exploit it. Likes, comments and shares. It was awesome… if you used it correctly.
Then the lights went out… in two different upheavals. First they turned EdgeRank on. Facebook’s algorithm began to decide what you should see based on its interpretation of your activity. Net result, you went from seeing 100% of your stuff to less than 10%. Facebook decided that you couldn’t possibly keep up with it all, so it did some behind the scenes filtering for you.
Then, last year in Upheaval II, The Sequel, Facebook decided that if you were looking for free advertising, you needed to pay them for the privilege. Between handshaking and hashtags Facebook did everything they could to make it nearly impossible to get any significant reach without paying for it. This was the nuke I warned our clients about over half a decade ago during my Rosetta Stone seminar. Facebook’s uber-monetization movement had begun.
FACEBOOK AS A FREE AD PLATFORM IS OVER, DEAD, KAPUT.
Scores of clients ARE using Facebook successfully as a paid ad platform, and we offer, through our SmartReach division, state-of-the-art Facebook ad campaigns that deliver better than Domino’s. More on that in a different message. For the moment, the first question to address in 2017 is;
SO WHAT THE HECK GOOD IS FACEBOOK IF I DON’T WANT TO PAY THEM?
Strap in cousin, this bump may jolt you a little… Facebook ain’t for sellin’ your stuff anymore… kinda. In my opinion it never really was. Selling flies in the face of Facebook’s key descriptor, which is “social.” Can you sell stuff on Facebook? Yup. Is it harder to do it now? Yup. Do you have time to mess with all the intricacies so you can sell stuff well? Probably not.
Let me put it this way. Facebook is NOT inherently a sales platform. It is a Relationship Building and Customer Service platform. Facebook’s changes have made this decision for you. Fight it at your own risk (and enhanced aggravation level). Over time, Relationship Building and Customer Service always pay huge dividends, but you must be patient. The hot two-seater of your youth is now the practical minivan of your adult years and, if you use it as such, you will be safer and more prosperous.
To borrow a page from Simon Sinek, Facebook is where you tell folks WHY you do what you do and where you socialize to let them know you’re good guys to work with. Use your Facebook pipeline to attract and cement new relationships and to deliver the audio/visual payoffs that prove your point.
Every day, you should use Facebook to let your customers and prospects know that you’re just like them. No more than a third of what you post should be directly about your business. The vast majority should be about life. If you despair at the passing of a favorite musician or actor, share that feeling. Why? To show your customers and potential customers that you’re human. Showing that is a better customer-keeper than just about anything.
If a co-worker has a baby, share the news and the picture. If the guy in IT makes killer chili, post the recipe and the picture of a big steaming bowl of the stuff. If your company collects for the local food bank, let your followers know and post pics. Better still, invite them to participate. A 15 second smartphone video of your receptionist blowing out the candles on her office birthday cake is 15 seconds of solid gold relationship building. Starting to see a pattern?
BUT… HERE’S YOUR PROBLEM…
If you’re a serious, bottom-line driven manager/entrepreneur, those last two paragraphs have set off your “frivolous meter” like a breathalyzer at a distiller’s convention. Too often, the notion of something that is not obviously a transaction-driving activity drives manager-types nuts. It’s not what you’re wired for. Sorry… 2017 and beyond require a little re-wiring.
Facebook, unintentionally or otherwise, created one of the most magnificent customer service platforms ever. Properly used, it can be a great addition to your service and loyalty building arsenal. And… for the most part, all you have to do is… pay attention.
When you, or your folks post, hang around for a while and check for responses. When they come, engage those responses. If it’s complement, thank someone. If there’s an issue, begin the process of correcting it… in front of everyone if possible. If it’s a shared experience, identify and commiserate. And sign every post and/or response with the real first name of the person responding. Let ‘em know you’re not IBM’s Watson.
To recap our “basics” so far:
- Facebook is way different now.
- No more free marketing on Facebook, not like the good old days.
- Yes, you can pay for good advertising on Facebook. More on that later.
- Facebook is now a Relationship Building and Customer Service platform.
- Use Facebook to show the human side of your business.
- Yes, it feels out of place, but the payoff will be spectacular.
And our last new(ish) Facebook basic;
LOOK AT YOUR FACEBOOK ACTIVITY THROUGH YOUR CUSTOMER’S EYES
The current touchy-feely nature of things isn’t limited to Millennials. In an increasingly connected digital world, real-world touching and caring has taken a distant backseat and subconsciously we all miss it, in some cases, desperately. Displaying “corporate humanity” in your social activities will result in a level of connection that cannot be manufactured and is worth its weight in gold. It’s a tough groove to get into and get comfortable with, but once you’re in that groove, it will start to feel as natural as breathing. In fact, the hardest thing will be to not backslide into old habits.
Again, in the interests of keeping to our “Basics” theme, that’s enough for now. This may have been a lot of uncomfortableness to swallow. (Hopefully not.) But, if you can transition toward using Facebook as more of a relationship platform than a sales platform, you and your customers will be much happier in the long run. If you’d like to go deeper into things, feel free to reach out.I hope you’ve found a few useful nuggets to work with. Next time we’ll expand on something that deserves its own singular spotlight, Facebook and customer testimonial basics. Seeya then. - Jim