Most marketers agree that a social media presence is a must have in today’s online marketplace, but they still struggle with how to define social media ROI. We continue to ask what a Facebook presence can do for the organization and, more importantly, our customers.
Social media marketing still is—and may perhaps be for some time yet—an emerging discipline. Yet our customers are only spending more and more time on Facebook and Twitter. Even if we haven’t got our arms around the social media landscape, it’s becoming increasingly important to be there now, today—reaching out to our customers through the social networks they care about and trust.
How to begin? What assets are needed to build a living Facebook fan page? What content should be flowed through Twitter? How often must I update, who should I follow and friend, and most importantly, what is it all for?
A good place to start is to ask yourself what your customers might want from your Facebook page. As always, your customers are your customers and you best know what they want and need. That said, there has emerged a fairly common set of ingredients that most Facebook fan, group and community pages do include and customers who spend a lot of time in social media are starting to expect.
Building a Facebook page with the following simple ingredients is a great place to start—but remember, your social media presence is a presence—a living, breathing thing that interacts, reacts and adapts over time. Launch your page with these fundamentals, tune in often, listen, interact and adapt the page over time as you start to better understand what your customers want and need from you on Facebook.
1. Customers. Social networking sites are all about building community. Customers first and foremost would like to see and hear from their fellow customers and group members on fan or community pages.
2. Employees. Facebook is a place for informal relationships to spark between your customers and employees. Rather than channeling customers through operational hierarchies like a customer service center, social media lets them interact freely and informally to exchange information and solve problems together. Your company employees—especially customer facing—should be a part of your Facebook presence.
3. Links. Here is the opportunity to declare the environs in which you operate—your, industry, your category and your niche. The links you post to your Facebook page should not only help define who you are to your customers, but also be useful to them. Link to your suppliers, major news stories affecting your industry, influential bloggers in your niche, your own web pages declaring your green practices.
4. Relevant, meaningful content. As social media is all about “the conversation”, alas, there are precious little pixels on Facebook pages devoted to permanent content. Posts you make to the Wall scroll away into oblivion before you know it—the bigger and more active the community, the faster it happens. Community platform provider Lithium will soon announce a light integration that allows you to store, organize and curate Facebook page content. It’s a great way to give your customers quick access to product information, FAQs and community-based customer support right inside your fan page.
5. Openness. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of relinquishing control of the conversation when connecting with customers through social media. If they sense they are being manipulated, marketed to or corralled in any way, you will lose them. Although the social media landscape remains slightly murky, one thing we can say with confidence is that those companies who embrace it as a place to listen and learn fare much better than those who try to use it to control and convert. And those that do listen and learn are proclaiming that the value of connecting with customers through social media goes far beyond increased conversion.