A conversation with a relative went something like this:
“Facebook is just a waste of time. I don’t use it with family or friends and I certainly don’t see how you would make money with it.”
Another conversation with a business owner in Dayton’s south suburbs went like this:
“I want to use Facebook for my business but I don’t know what to do with it and I don’t want to waste time on it.”
I share these because there are takeaways from both that are useful for businesses considering how to use social media to connect with customers.
Lesson from the first conversation:
While my relative denounced Facebook, she closely monitors what her 14-year-old says to Facebook friends, what photos and information she posts, and how much time she spends online. You also may choose to not use social media, but it’s a darn good idea to know what others, including your teenager, your employees, your competitors and your customers are doing online.
Lesson from the second conversation:
Watching and listening to how others use a Facebook Fan Page for their businesses is a good way to begin to develop your plan for how you will use it. You’ll no doubt discover that businesses are not wasting time there. Here are three examples to consider — and follow:
Brueggers, the national bagel chain with a store in Mason, offers discounts and recipes and answers questions from customers. They also encourage customers to keep coming back with a trivia contest that pays off in, what else, bagels and cream cheese, and info about how to join the company in contributing to the annual holiday Toys for Tots drive. For 18,854 Facebook users, this is all info worth becoming a fan of Brueggers.
Childrens Medical Center of Dayton provides a mix of its announcements, healthcare advice and an events calendar along with 55 photo albums and video, too, including one of its doctors explaining the threat of the H1N1 virus. The hospital links to its other social media profiles (Twitter, YouTube) and its web sites. Most important, the hospital’s staff responds directly to comments posted on its fan page wall by parents of the young patients and others from among its 1,129 Facebook fans
Jumpstart Java, a coffee shop in Springboro, also invites customers to join the business in donating to families in need as well as discounts on the purchase of coffee beans. What’s most impressive is that this business is marketing to a small but loyal group of 315 fans.
Jumpstart asked them on Facebook to go to another web site, yelp.com, and review the coffee shop there in an effort to help more people find out about Jumpstart Java. Smart move to encourage customers to help advertise the business. Jumpstart also features a new drink, the Maple Frosting Latte, that a customer suggested. Jumpstart used its fan page to explain who came up with the drink idea, and offered a 20 percent discount for one day to its Facebook fans to introduce it.
That’s not wasting time. That’s making friends online that will lead to making money.
Practice what you preach: Here’s my business fan page on Facebook.
Right on Chris-
Most of our clients that talk about social media know they want it, but have no idea how to use it. I am a strong believer in the fact that it MUST be a social interaction between the business and consumer, not just another way to stuff discounts and freebies down someones throat.
Jumpstart Java is definitely doing it the right way. Are they doing any type of in-store promotions to get more fans? Most people I talk to at first never make the connection and don’t market their on-line business via in store promotion.
Great examples Chris, particularly Jumpstart Java as they are a small business but yet still have found ways to use Facebook to deepen the relationship with current customers and empower them to “spread the word.”
Many of the case studies out there of companies using Facebook are major brands or chains (i.e. Coke or Starbucks) but Jumpstart and Dayton Children’s prove you don’t have to be huge to benefit on Facebook.
I’d also suggest folks look into doing advertising on Facebook as a way to compliment their Fan Pages, as you can do very specific geo-targeting and demographic and psychographic targeting. For example, Dayton Children’s could target ads to people age 20 – 60 who live within 50 miles of Dayton.