Build relationships and drive sales at the same time

 

Social networking sites are platforms on which people can create profiles about themselves, connect with family, friends and colleagues and share information and  content with each other. These sites generally also allow businesses and other organisations to set up a presence to communicate with their customers, supporters and donors.

There are a number of social networks on the internet. As Facebook is one of the most popular, in this section we will cover:

How using Facebook might benefit your organisation

There are numerous strategies to encourage people to engage with your organisation’s Facebook page. Examples include:

Run a contest

Your subscribers are in the running to win a prize, while you get the opportunity to engage directly with them and raise a positive profile .

Spark a discussion

What topics matter to you and your customers, supporters or donors? Many people enjoy a good discussion — particularly on topics that they are knowledgeable or passionate about.

Share a link, image, video

If you find or create something online that you think that your subscribers will enjoy, it may be worth sharing with them. Your post may be shared from one network of friends to another, but you will be credited as the original poster of that content.

Provide customer service

Customers, supporters and donors who need your help may contact you on Facebook. As the support that you give on Facebook is displayed publicly, others who are having similar problems may find your advice and solutions useful. This public support also helps demonstrate that your brand has a pro-active and helpful attitude.

Announce a sale or special promotion

Some people subscribe to updates from a Facebook page for the primary purpose of finding out when they can buy products on sale or take advantage of a promotion.

Getting started on Facebook

You can use the following steps as a guide for setting up a Facebook presence for your organisation:

Think about what you want to achieve with your Facebook page.

Take a look at what other organisations like yours are doing. How are they using the space set aside for the main image on the page? Have they integrated ‘apps’ into their page? Go to the ‘Create a Page ’ section of Facebook. You will be prompted to select what kind of page you want to create (whether you are a business or a not-for-profit organisation) and to supply the basic details (like address and phone number) for your organisation.

Set up the essential details for your page.

This is an opportunity for you to briefly describe who you are, provide an image to represent yourself and customise your Facebook web address.

Spread the word about your new page.

It is time to let people know about your new social media presence. Some of the places you can promote it include your printed materials, your website and your email signature. If you have a personal Facebook account, you can also share your organisation’s Facebook page with your network of friends and family.

Allocating time to Facebook

While social media is free in the sense that you do not have to pay to use it, it will generally cost you some time.

The two biggest time commitments in social media are typically:

 

  • Responding to posts on your organisation’s page
  • Producing content  to share with the people subscribed to your updates.

Social media is all about conversation, so you are likely to get questions, comments and feedback from Facebook users. To help minimise customer frustration if you do not reply to their comments immediately, it is a good idea to set clear expectations on your page as to how long it may take to get a response (for example, within one business day).

Be wary of overposting. If you share content too regularly, you run the risk of cluttering people’s news feeds and becoming annoying. Equally, be wary of underposting. If you go long periods without sharing content, it may look like your online presence is being neglected.

DigitalIQ tips

Save time by scheduling Facebook posts

If you do not want to let social media commitments dictate agenda for the day, you might want to investigate some software for scheduling automatic posts throughout the days ahead. Examples of these include TweetDeckTweetDeck and LaterBroLaterBro.

Bear in mind that often the people behind the best Facebook pages do not plan all of their content ahead of time, and instead focus on sharing fresh news, links and discussion topics whenever possible.

Making the most of Facebook

The benefits you receive from having a Facebook page will largely depend on how well you engage with users. Effective use of all social media requires the building of relationships, and relationships need trust and patience.

Be prepared to take negative comments in a positive and open manner. You should be part of the conversation, not control it. There are techniques that may help you in the ‘Online feedback’ section of this site.

You may be able to use Facebook to drive sales. To achieve this, it helps to give people enjoyable content that they will want to pass onto their friends.