Almost every company has a Facebook page, along with a Twitter account, and both are utilized primarily for advertising purposes. In fact, many are directing customers to their Facebook pages instead of their websites. The logic behind that is fairly clear. While web traffic is useful, it’s not going to do much in terms of concrete involvement. Gaining fans on Facebook, along with collecting coveted “likes,” appears to be the goal of the moment. There’s nothing wrong with this model, in theory; however, in practice it leaves a lot to be desired.
Businesses need to reexamine the goals behind their social media strategies. The best place to start is to view things from the customer’s perspective. Consumers decide to become “fans” or “followers” of particular brands for a reason. Naturally, they are attracted to the product for whatever reason. The source of initial connection doesn’t matter as much as what it produces. People turn to social networking because they are interested in constant interaction, and your brand needs to adapt to their preferences. Chances are they aren’t very interested in seeing additional display ads on Facebook. The display driven model reaches tons of eyeballs, but they border on marketing overkill.
Instead of focusing on exposure, concentrate on quality communication. In other words, give people a reason to visit your profile more than once. Special deals can be effective tools, though they’re a poor substitute for genuine engagement. For example, lots of customers prefer to handle customer service issues via Twitter and Facebook. This saves them the trouble of having to call your company, locate the right person, and deal with being placed on hold 15 times in the process. They turn to social networks to avoid the hassle, so make sure that your representatives are prepared to handle these types of issues in a timely fashion. Response windows are fairly short; if you’re not able to resolve the problem immediately, at least let the client know that they have your attention. Few things look worse on company profiles than unanswered consumer questions or grievances. Neglecting positive feedback is another common mistake. Anyone that puts worth the effort to complement your products and services deserves recognition. Express your gratitude in a natural way and perhaps offer to send them promotional materials. This sends a message to the particular individual as well as everyone else that you appreciate loyal patrons.
Social networks are about destroying barriers and leveling the playing field. Your job isn’t to talk down to your “fans” or insult their intelligence. Treat them as equals in a virtual community and they’ll reward you with more than just another “like.”