When was the last time you saw an advert on the television that listed their own website? More likely they will have put up their Facebook page.

Each of these pages provides a way for a brand to engage with their prospects, customers, partners and shareholders in a way that wouldn’t have happened before.

If you think about the times that you would have been likely to go to a Corporate Website it would have been for crunch point situations:

  1. I want to buy something
    2. I want to complain

And for many of the brands that you’d never interact with directly – like Nestle, you might never visit their website.

These businesses have realised that rather than making you come to their website, they will come to you, and that means having a Page on Facebook. Facebook is a site that you and 500 million others already use, you have it on your mobile, you check it regularly through the day. Facebook is already social meaning that you can see which of your other friends are interacting with that brand and can get involved in the conversation.

The newsfeed is everything

Facebook is not about providing a replacement for your website. On Facebook when did you last go to a friend’s profile? If you are like me it was a long time ago. For me, if it isn’t in the newsfeed it never happened. I use the newsfeed to deliver up the information of what is happening in my network.

The same thing goes for company’s Facebook Page. Your fans will probably never ever return to your Page once they have ‘Liked’ you, and therefore your focus needs to be on generating lively and engaging discussion and comment that will appear in your fan’s newsfeeds and encourage their action – either by liking, or ideally commenting. It’s important to steer clear of pushing products or new features as this will turn off your fans very quickly. People like to see competitions, offers specifically for fans, entertainment, links to relevant content – exactly the same messages they would expect to get from their friends.

Support for the Facebook generation

Your Facebook page also gives you the ability to answer questions and concerns before they become major issues. The Facebook generation is used to going on-line, and perhaps making a gripe about a product or service. Your Facebook page is a great way to answer that concern in public and before it turns into a real support case that risks customer churn. Salesforce.com and Facebook have announced the ability to generate support cases from Facebook comments, and the ability to deliver those answers back into the newsfeed. This is the future for Service Desks, and even if it it too early for your business I would encourage you to at least think about how this might change the way you support your clients.

Action points

When I speak to clients about Facebook as a business tool I often get disapproving looks. ”I’m not on Facebook” or “We are not a consumer brand”. I would urge you to get an account if you don’t have one, and then go and Like all the brands that you personally use. Try and get as diverse range as possible. Then view your newsfeed over the course of a few months and see what you think.

  • Who does it well?
  • Who does it badly?
  • Who gets the most conversation going with their Fans?
  • What could you do to emulate that experience?
  • What business metrics could this improve for you – Sales, Customer Satisfaction, Cost of Serve

And remember – you Like what you like. As a user of Facebook my newsfeed is full of relevant content about Cloud Computing, Business and the Economy – because those are the pages that I am following. It doesn’t have to be chips and facecream!