I read a really interesting post today by my friend, Teresa Boardman (who’s a smart cookie and whom you should follow, if you’re not already). She was bemoaning the sacrifice of good customer service to the gods of Facebook and Twitter; that companies no longer seemed to care about helping their customers and were concerned only with having fan pages or making sure it would seem that they were “engaged.”
This saddens me, too. I think that, social media involvement or no, customer service is a lost art. It’s a shame, too, because really? It’s not all that hard to do. All you have to do is, well, not be a <insert NSFW word of choice here>.
I’m actually heartened by the number of companies that want to be involved with social media. The discouraging part is the number of companies that just seem to have no earthly idea what to do or how to act once they’ve started a Twitter account, or a YouTube channel, or even a Facebook fan page.
I think, for small businesses in particular, Facebook fan pages are great. They are, when used properly, a great channel to provide great customer service. There are several who have done a fantastic job rallying their customer bases and who use them to maximum effect.
One of my favorites is for a small t-shirt shop in New Orleans called “Fleurty Girl“. Their owner is consistent in her involvement, she interacts with her customers daily, she offers specials that are good only for FB fans … she’s doing it exactly right. AND she’s developed quite a following, not just locally, but nationally. You should check them out.
Now, I do lots of work with people in the real estate community. Realtors are a segment of the business world for whom Facebook fan pages seem to be tailor-made. Facebook, after all, is the place where all of the people are. Finding customers among those people whom you already know (and among the people that they know) seems like a natural fit. So, lots of Realtors are trying their hands at Facebook fan pages. Some of them, like Dale Chumbley, a Realtor in Vancouver, WA, have found their niche and are doing things in an innovative, organic way.
Others, though? Not so much. Others seem to get their page set up, invite all of their friends, most of whom seem to be other Realtors, to be fans … then they don’t do much else. What good is having every Realtor under the sun be a fan of your page? Is that going to garner you new business? Probably not. Providing content that’s of interest to your community, though? That’s the ticket. I wish that people would think more about what they’re doing. I wish that more people would do their own thing, rather than say, “Hey! This worked for that other guy! I’m gonna try that, too.” Think. Try something new.
It’s not simply having the page that gets you business or helps your customers, it’s what you, Company X, put into it. Having a fan page with 20 or 30 “fans” each of whom is a cousin or friend of your Aunt Fannie isn’t going to get you (or your customers) jack squat. Once you have the page, you have to provide content that’s interesting to people. You have to provide content that is actually helpful.
Facebook fan pages are great. But they’re not magic. You should be using them to serve your community. Use them to help your customers. The operative words here, though, are “use them.”