While I strongly agree Facebook is a great tool for businesses to promote themselves, engage with their customers, build brand loyalty and so on, it also has the potential to do more harm than good if not utilised correctly. Too many times I've seen businesses that get on Facebook and their profiles are nothing short of a shambles, things have been set up wrong from day one, posts are made too often or too rarely.
Far worse though is seeing a business that doesn't reply to its customers, engage with them or handle feedback poorly. This last one is critical, if you are scared off by negative feedback or don't know how to handle it, maybe taking your business social isn't a good idea because the honest truth is you can't please everyone!
In actual fact, responding to negative feedback and handling it as best as possible will do your brand much more good than any possible harm, people seeing you make an effort to resolve customer problems turns a negative in to a positive. As for posting too much or too little, both will drive your fans away, they will either get sick of too many posts filling up their feed or simply lose interest because you have nothing to say.
So, what's the best way to avoid these and other possible problems when using a social network for business purposes? Below we have covered off what we consider the best way to prepare and manage taking your business social and while they have been written with Facebook in mind, they can be applied to other social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Regardless of the below, you absolutely must keep in mind it's called "social" networking for a reason so be sure to show some personality without telling everyone about your wild night out on the weekend!
Define the Purpose
This step is a must as it will define, in part, what you post and how you present your business to your customers. Like any other form of marketing or promotion, there must be clearly defined goals, what is the purpose of taking your business social?
Is it to simply engage your customers in a one on one environment? Do you want to build your customer base? Do you want to drive these followers back to your site? Are you looking to establish yourself as a leading source of information in your industry? Maybe it's all of the above? Either way, you need to clearly define the purpose then ensure your social interactions meet those requirements.
Define the Audience
Defining your audience is the next step before you get in to who and what is going to be shared via your social avenues. Having a clear outline as to who your target audience is will make everything else a lot easier, for example if your key demographic is teenagers, chances are they won't be interested in some long winded articles (ahem).
Assign Content Manager(s)
Depending on what you plan to share at a social level you need to assign a content manager, or managers, these people will be responsible for ensuring your social profile is delivering what it needs to. You may assign one person to simply chat to users and handle feedback, positive or negative, another person may look after promoting your products and services, another could be handling the blog on your site and promoting new articles and so on.
Choose The Platforms
This isn't as critical as the above although I'd highly advise you start off with Facebook and once you have a really good handle on how it all works and you are kicking some goals, then look into others such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
Set The Frequency
Frequency really comes down to what you can manage or would like to publish although if you plan to engage customers you should be checking in on a regular basis and reply to any comments, suggestions, feedback or complaints. As for posting links to your site, products, articles etc. I would be a little more reserved, seeing your feed constantly flooded out by one particular company posting product after article after product peeves quite a few people off.
Review & Measure
This one goes back to you defining a purpose, if your goal was to build a fan base then you need to set a target of how many fans you want within a set time frame. If your goal was to get people to your website and buying products you should ensure you are using some form of analytics so you can track the traffic coming from your social networks. eCommerce tracking could also be installed if you have a shopping cart to further analyse what keywords or traffic sources are delivering sales.
I really can't think of any business or organisation that couldn't use Facebook to some extent, even if it's just a central point everyone can organise events and contribute in conversation. For most businesses though, Facebook can be a great way to promote your business, engage with customers and build brand loyalty.