At a recent GRTechLunch Laura Bergells and I were discussing Facebook Pages and the disappointment I had with the facebook change in function to prevent spamming by only allowing Pages/Businesses to connect with their fans through updates.
As a business, you need more than a weblink. She helped me see it in a different way. And now here are some of my current thoughts as it applies to Facebook and businesses.
Why is this a good thing?
As a business you want to maintain a quality appearance to your customers/fans and the importance of EIN number cannot be denied. You do not want them to consider information from you to be spam. So by Facebook limiting the times a business can get infront of their fans, and the method for it (less obtrusive) they have prevented businesses from being spammy. Although it is still possible, but people will quickly unfan your business in that case. Facebook made the normal practice to be less spammy.
Also your email newsletters, or sale fliers in a direct mail piece are considered to be spam and discarded without ever being read. Whereas the updates feature of a facebook page goes directly to the users inbox and in general has more chances of being read than a direct email from your business.
So what can I do with it?
First off, as a business you need to setup one or more facebook pages. Then choose a schedule to update your fans. Once a Month, once a week on Thursday. The best updates are done on a regular basis, for example GRnow sends out a weekly update on Fridays listing what to do in GR this weekend. Another example would be a facebook page which updates frequently (daily or weekly) with a monthly update linking to the best of the updates from the previous 30 days.
Boiled down: Use your facebook page to update fans on a schedule while uploading content as frequently as possible (remembering which to note in the scheduled update)
A successful business needs a lot more plans and services than just my explanation. Despite what Facebook would have you think, there is still a benefit for a business in having profiles. Here’s the catch: The profile must be a real person, perhaps one or more of your sales staff, or recruitment/admissions staff, or even your development staff. Even if your staff has a facebook profile already, are they ready to use it to benefit the company? Yes it’s true that a lot of people waste a lot of time on facebook, but there is a way for a business to benifit from it’s staff being on facebook.
If a college staff member (admissions staff) asked me to be a friend (even if we only met @ a college fair once) on facebook I’d be more likely to say yes (very few people deny friend requests, it’s like a pat on the ego) So now that college recruiter can scrape my profile info for a CRM system. They can know my interests where I’ll be when etc. And can sponsor events I’m interested in to get their name in front of me… or be at those events in person.
The staff member is there to consume. (To Spy?) Not to post, they are not broadcasting College of my-state rocks every day or other marketing speak. Instead they see into my personal life better than ever before.
This also works on a sales side… if one of my IT vendors requests me as a friend on facebook and I say yes, he can scrape my info for a CRM, can know when I’m pulling overnights and know exactly how to carry a call/conversation (non-cold call any more) with me in the real world and target his solutions. If he/she were reading my blog he/she would know not to try and sell a microsoft solution to me.
Bringing it home – works on linkedin too
Do you invite as friends the contacts you have at various organizations to be friends on facebook or on linkedin ? What information are you giving them via facebook/linkedin and what info are you gleaning from those networks.
The best sales people will now be able to target their offerings just in time to meet people’s needs.
Of course people’s statuses will have to be able more than just “I ate eggs and toast at Denny’s. It was good.” I believe that status updates are moving away from the no-information-given style.
Are your sales people using facebook to generate new leads?
Could you offer referral bonuses to non sales staff who earn new business through facebook?