Don’t you remember this movie? :)

You’ve got mail-in your Facebook page inbox

Originally published at Latifa’s Business on July 27, 2016.

If you’re a small business owner, be it a cafe, yoga center, you make unique jewelry, you’re a personal fitness trainer or hairdresser, you must have already discovered the magic that Facebook can do to help your build your Internet presence, build your brand, and, most importantly: help you acquire customers.

Your Facebook page is a wonderful opportunity to tell your friends about your business, but, also, to tell broader Facebook audience and your target group/specific demographic about your business, whether it’s a product or a service that you’re offering.

This time I wouldn’t go too much into branding, ads and content, but I’d rather focus on a very important element of any Facebook page that aims to reach certain demographic, in order to acquire new customers, and retain the existing customers.

Many local businesses, even though their content management is sloppy and sometimes even terrible, with low engagement of any kind, seem to be doing pretty well if you look at their inboxes. If, e.g. they have a specific product, especially if it’s a home made product, their posts, let’s face it, mostly because they are so unimaginative, don’t call for any engagement, but there’s quite lot of traffic in the inbox, and new orders keep on coming, on regular bases.

Taking orders, and keeping your business alive, is great, but there is much more that you can get from communication with your customers, page fans or those who are still only leads and have a great potential to become your customers. So, here are the three things that you can do to make better use of your Facebook page inbox:

  1. Learn about your lead/customer demographic. Communicating via Facebook, you have an amazing opportunity to dig deep into understanding who your leads and customers really are. So many businesses, especially SaaS startups use all kinds of analytic tools to track their traffic, see where the leads are coming from, they analyze cohorts, very often, they have to invite their early adopter customers to their office and see them use their product, ask them what they think, why they like or dislike their product, what would they change, and all of that to know where they’re going, whether they should pivot, give up, continue doing what they’re doing, or just simply commit suicide. If you’re a small business owner, or entrepreneur that offers certain personal services, when your customers write to you, they come to you, you don’t have to go and hunt them around and ask for interviews, so, do something with that, dig deeper, click on their profiles, and see what they like, who they are, what they do in their personal lives. Also, you can tell if it’s only women of certain age who are interested in your product, or it’s gender mixed audience. Of course, in Facebook insight you can read the numbers related to your demographic, which can be enough for the quantitative aspect of analyses, but, your inbox is a great way to fill in the qualitative part.
  2. Read the messages carefully and think about them. Women have this habit of writing very long sentences and revealing a lot of context behind the actual reason why they are writing to you, in the first place. Well, read the context. Some of the fans will write about their motivation to write, some will tell you nice stuff about your business, some will criticize you, and some will ask you very strange questions, questions you never thought of, related to your product/service, but questions that really matter. Your customers can give you great ideas, can tell you the truth that you’re avoiding to see, and can help you understand what is the core of your business, should you zoom-in, or zoom-out, or continue doing what you’re doing, being focused on that specific product/service. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions back. Remember, every time you get in touch with your customers, that is an opportunity for you to do a little market research.
  3. Create relationship. When somebody decides to write you a message, and ask something or make an order, have respect for that, give that relationship a chance, and build up on that specific action. Be nice, be eloquent, but not pretentious, be kind, intuitive and interested in your customer, and try to figure out if your target group are people who like personal contact, formal contact, weather your fans want to hang out with you in a virtual reality, or they are just some remote people, strangers, your sell stuff to. Try to make friends out of your customers. That will pay off.

I don’t think that Facebook relationship building is suitable for all kinds of businesses, especially for those which require transactions that demand personal and credit card information, but I think Facebook is revolutionary for small local business, service or product oriented, and for brand and community building, without any monetary transactions. So make the best out of it! Lately, it is becoming obvious that Facebook is loosing a bit of its power, especially for certain demographic groups, especially those under 24 years of age, which are rapidly switching to Instagram, and using it as their primary and, very often, only social network account. Also, Facebook has announced earlier this year that Facebook users are sharing fewer personal updates, and that’s a bit of a problem. If this trend continues, Facebook will, eventually, become just like your phone book, a place where you have all these friends stored and available for contact, as its very name says, a Facebook, which is the reason why you will hesitate to deactivate your account, but you, also, won’t be posting anything,and that could happen very soon, for several demographic groups. I don’t wish to sound apocalyptic, but the end might be near. So, if you’re already a business owner, an entrepreneur of any kind, and you think that Facebook could help you gain customers or spread the word about your brand, you better hurry up, and start working as soon as possible, not to miss this momentum. Good luck!