Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making the Most of Social Media - Part One: Using Facebook to Save Face

At ECPR – and just about everywhere else – social media is more important than ever before. Several years ago, we began offering PR 2.0 – traditional public relations combined with social media management. And, since then, we’ve become the social media manager for various clients’ social networking channels exclusively. The face and function of social media has changed drastically over the past few years – status updates, tweets and photo sharing aren’t just for college students anymore.

Social media channels are now more popular than most news outlets. According to mediabistro.com social media members spent a total of 632 minutes on social media sites per user this past January. While some may find that statistic disturbing, it merely signals that the banal social media to which we were once introduced is now more informative, relevant and necessary than in years past. It holds a role in almost everyone’s life. One reason social media has gained this relevance is its place in the business world. These online tools are not only essential for the image of your brand, but utilizing individual functions and analytics of the site are beneficial for reaching and understanding your clients, customers or target audience. That’s why we’ve decided to provide a four-part series of social media breakdowns for businesses in the home, garden, design and agribusiness industries.

Let’s Face It
Of those 632 minutes spent on social media sites, a whopping 405 of them were spent on Facebook. So it’s no wonder we begin our first Social Media Series post here. Because Facebook is still primarily a place for personal social interactions, it can be challenging and time consuming to assure the page you provide for your clientele or customers is exactly what your company needs. Here are a few ideas to make the most out of your Facebook business page:
  • Decide on an image. No, not just a profile picture (although that’s important too). Meet with the team of people in your company and decide what you are trying to convey through your Facebook presence. Are you simply adding another portal for potential clients to visit your main website? Are you hoping to connect with past, current and potential clients? Will your posts be formal or more conversational? It is important that every employee who may access your Facebook understands the personality you want to convey. Type a list of potential post ideas and keep it on file. Decide on specific types of posts so that no one inadvertently posts a topic that is irrelevant. Will you only post about news specific to your company? Will you share articles and videos? What type of photos will you share? Similarly, if someone makes a post that you think is exemplary of your Facebook image, be sure to highlight that achievement in an e-mail or memo to employees.
  • This is a visual world. Although many users get their news via link posts on Facebook, what initially attracts clicks is photos and videos. If your business doesn’t have a lot of photos on file, start building your image library today so you make your page “go live” as soon as possible. Designers and architects, are you consistently taking photos of your designs and posting them on your page? Is it possible to post before-and-after or progress photos as well? What about a video tour of a recent project? Growers, are you posting photos of your new plants or seasonal series? You are more likely to get “likes” on your page if users know they can count on you for visual updates and appeal. Be creative with your photos – if you have an event coming up, take pictures of the attendees. And, tell them you’ll be posting them on Facebook soon. Photos of other people on a business page give the business a personable and approachable image. Be sure to write captions for each and every photo you post, yes, each and every one.
  • Don’t be a wallflower. One of the biggest purposes of Facebook is to be SOCIAL. This means, interacting with people who visit and interface with your page. It makes absolutely no sense for a company to have a Facebook page that is closed for comments. If a client or customer simply wants to view information exclusively about and by your company, they will visit your website. We call that one-way insight. But, Facebook is a two-way street intended to generate online dialog with two or more fans or Facebook users. If someone likes a post or shares a link, be sure to thank them or leave a comment. Think of your Facebook page as a new conversation with a client or customer. You would never just walk away from a real-life conversation, so why let a post go unanswered? If a customer or client leaves a complaint or concern, don’t necessarily delete it – address it. This is a perfect opportunity to show that your company is accountable and available for its customers. Also, make an effort to interface with other brands and companies in your industry. If you’re mentioning media coverage, news or other relevant topics, tag the other Facebook business page in your post. This is a very simple tactic to “reach out” to and connect with other businesses.
  • Earn your keep. One of the most important rules for having a Facebook business page is to keep it active. It’s easy to de-prioritize your social media and update it only when you have occasional news to share about your company. But it is absolutely crucial to keep your page alive and fresh. If a potential client or customer visits your page and sees you haven’t posted anything in weeks, they will likely assume you are uninterested or just not available. You would never leave a client or customer phone call or e-mail inquiry unanswered, right? The same should be top of mind concerning Facebook comments. Being social media savvy is a trait that customers / clients and other businesses admire in companies, so making social media updating a daily, if not hourly, task is truly important. If you don’t think you can budget the time or patience to update your channels, consider hiring a public relations firm to do it for you, one that specializes in your field. This guarantees your internet brand image will be up to speed and tailored to your needs.

What are your Facebook success stories? Have you found certain tactics that bring in more clicks than others? Feel free to share any comments, ideas or stories in our comment section below, and check back in March for our second installment of this series, highlighting how to get the most out of your Twitter account.

3 comments:

  1. Renee SilversteinMarch 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    We use Facebook to promote our new collections. Our most popular tactic is specials for retailers.

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    1. Thanks, Renee. Connect with us on FB anytime.

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