The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Facebook

Small Business Facebook

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, with over 1.3 billion active users.

That means if you want to connect with your customers, then Facebook’s the place to be.

Here are three ways you can make the most of Facebook as a small business.

1. Make Your Business Into a Community

We all want to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s human nature.

Facebook lets you build a community around your brand. At its heart, business is about people, so in many ways Facebook is about getting to the roots of business.

By asking your customers to be part of your community, you invite them into your brand’s story. When they’re part of your story, they’ll want to share what they’ve found with their friends.

Building a community is also a great way of finding inspiration…

2. Get Inspired by Your Facebook Fans

One of the advantages of being a small business is that you have control over your creative decisions. You have input on everything from product development to marketing to pricing.

The problem? Being the go-to person for everything can leave you burned out. There’s only so much creativity that you and your small team can muster.

That’s why social media is so helpful. Your customers care about your business – especially if they like your brand on Facebook. They want you to succeed, and they want you to develop the products they need. When you need their advice or help, they’ll be willing to give their input. You’ll be surprised at how generous people can be with their ideas.

Of course that doesn’t mean you should rely on your customers for your creative drive or vision. But it’s good to know they’re there if you need them.

3. Target Ads at Your Ideal Customers

Let’s say you run an online boutique selling handmade baby clothes for newborns. Your ideal audience is made up of moms to be. Facebook lets you target ads so that only expecting moms will see them. Neat, huh?

You can target dog owners, cat owners, people who like gardening, fashionistas – if you can think of a particular group of people, you can most likely target them on Facebook. You can even advertise to people based on their favorite TV show, movie or baseball team.

When your ads are this carefully targeted, you can be sure your marketing budget is being put to good use. Of course, you’ll need to monitor whether your ads are converting. And if they’re not, then you’ll either need to tweak the ad, or rethink who your ideal customer really is.

Airline Social Media

How do you become a millionaire? Make a billion dollars and then buy an airline. – Warren Buffett

Buffett learned from experience – he got burned when he bought shares in US Airways worth over $300 million. In five years, they’d lost 75% of their value.

Buffett joked: “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.”

Well, maybe shooting one of the Wright brothers is taking it a bit far. But airlines are tricky businesses to run at the best of times. Little wonder they so often lose money.

Your customers are tired and often grumpy. They’ve often got up early (or stayed up late) for their flight. Then they had to line up for check-in. Then security – which is simultaneously terrifying and humiliating. Then they’ve had to fight their way on board to find a cramped seat where they’ll have to sit for several hours.

Not even the food is special.

Hook that up with the fact that you’re dealing with people’s dreams. Vacations they’ve saved years to take. Trips across country to reunite with relatives or friends. Travel to a make-or-break business deal.

Airlines have a tough job on their hands.

Would you want to be an airline? I’m not sure I would.

But if I was, I’d be careful to avoid these mistakes.

1. Ryanair’s “Middle Gimp”

James Lockley and his newlywed wife had spent two hours stuck in traffic en route to Stansted Airport in London, England. They were flying out to their own wedding reception in central Europe.

Despite the delay, they arrived at the airport an hour before their Ryanair flight was due to depart.

Yet due to Ryanair staff behaving incompetently, the plane boarded without them.

They were left stranded – and furious – in London, while the guests at their own wedding reception partied without them.

Lockley’s revenge? A letter of complaint to Ryanair that he published to Facebook. Ryanair staff are characterized as “Vacant”, “Not That Bright” and “Middle Gimp”.

Middle Gimp – supposedly a customer services manager – showed no compassion o their plight.

Here’s the story:

Middle Gimp had clearly listen hard at Ryan Air Middle Gimp school as he managed to take two perfectly calm and sane adults and in a matter of seconds reduce them to angry people considering violence.

‘Check in opens 3 hours before the flight’ he barked repeatedly as if it was the answer to every question in life. We tried to ask Middle Gimp direct questions about why it was necessary for us to miss the flight because the Child had forgotten to do his job, and Vacant had forgotten to do hers.

‘Why is this our fault, and why should we miss the flight because Ryan Air staff have admitted they made errors?.

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘Do you acknowledge we have just cause for complaint as we tried to do the right thing and the only reason we are not on the plane is because of communication failures with Ryan Air Staff?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘What colour are my trousers?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

You can read the full letter here. At the time of writing, it’s clocked up close to 70,000 shares.

Ouch.

Worse, Ryanair have just ignored it.

Ryanair gets by on being cheap. People use Ryanair because they want to save money. And maybe that’s a strategy that will always work for them.

But here’s the rub.

People today expect more of companies, especially when it comes to customer service. Companies who fulfill that expectation are rewarded for their effort.

Research shows that seven in 10 (71%) consumers are likely to recommend a brand to others, if they experience a quick and effective customer service response on social media. That figure drops to 19% for consumers who don’t receive a response.

2. United Breaks Guitars

Canadian musician Dave Carroll was flying from Halifax to Omaha, Nebraska to play at a gig. He checked his guitar into hold.

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he overheard another passenger exclaim “they’re throwing guitars outside”.

When Carroll arrived in Omaha, he discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had suffered severe damage.

Carroll tried to claim compensation, but his claim was repeatedly rejected because he had failed to submit the claim within the “standard 24-hour timeframe.”

After nine months of frustrating phone calls and failed negotiations, Carroll changed tactics. Instead of trying to deal with United’s customer service team, he wrote a song about his experience.

“United Breaks Guitars” was an instant YouTube hit, clocking up 150,000 views in a single day.

United immediately contacted Carroll to “make what happened right” – though they only offered $3,000 in compensation (Carroll took it, and gave the money to charity).

Fortunately, Taylor guitars stepped into the breach, offering Carroll two Taylor guitars.

And “United Breaks Guitars” is still Dave Carroll’s biggest hit, with over 14 million views on YouTube.

What does this show? People power. Your customers have a greater voice than ever before – so don’t dismiss them when they come to you with problems.

3. #QantasLuxury

Back in 2011, Australian airline Qantas unintentionally kicked off a Twitter comedy hour.

Qantas asked people to tweet about their dream luxury inflight experience using the hashtag #QantasLuxury.

Did people start sharing their flying fantasies?

Nope, they didn’t..

Instead, they used the hashtag as a batsignal to get the attention of Qantas customer services.

Tweets included:

My #QantasLuxury experience would be no matter what time or duration of the flight a proper meal is served a cookie is not a meal its a joke

A complimentary cheap hotel room because your cynical airline left you stranded in Adelaide, of all places. Adelaide. #QantasLuxury

A plane that doesn’t have an exploding engine! #QantasLuxury

The lesson? If you’re going to ask your customers to dream better, then make sure your current offering is already damn good.

The Takeaway

What’s to learn from all of these? Your customers matter. Listen to them and treat them with respect – and they’ll do the same in return. Ignore customer complaints at your peril!

This is a guest post by Hilary Smith.

Businesses today know the benefits that come with social media. Social networks can do much more than give existing brands new life; they also give brands many more opportunities to build collaborative relationships with consumers like never before.

However, the term “social media” also comes with a lot of baggage. There’s actually a lot more to managing these networks than sharing cat videos and following worldwide trending topics. Brands must understand what social media makes possible for their businesses: engaging with customers, providing quicker feedback, reaching new audiences, and so on.

Unfortunately, many brands treat social media as a short press release — a way to talk about themselves. With so much competition for attention in social media, brands need to consider how they’re effectively showcasing their humanity, as well as how they can help their consumers through these channels.

Delta Airlines, GoPro, and ESPN have slam-dunked social marketing initiatives across a variety of platforms. Read on to learn how three brands put social media to work to great effect…

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is a great example of a brand taking advantage of Twitter’s casual but conversational user interface. Delta gained a popular following on the website with mentions of pop culture, holidays, and anecdotes:

delta airlines twitter

The Delta account also frequently responds to individual tweets. Delta’s lighthearted, personable, and often humorous brand strategy on the website stands out and makes users more willing to listen and even engage — Delta adds to the average user’s experience and overall daily enjoyment of the platform.

Your business can follow along Delta’s flight pattern by deciding on a brand persona. In sales and in life, people remember how you make them feel over what you’re actually saying, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Opting for the most professional tone and technical language will likely not get your business the attention it needs on Twitter.

GoPro

Lifestyle video brand GoPro recently ran two campaigns on Facebook:

  1. GoPro’s Everything We Make Sweepstakes was a chance for people who did not yet own a GoPro to win one of every GoPro product.
  2. The Photo & Video of the Day campaign on Facebook was for customers who wanted to share their GoPro adventures.

GoPro then selected content submissions from some of their biggest producers and put the top photos on their Facebook page. Doing this encouraged other GoPro users to like, comment, and share. As a result, their rate of social engagement increased.

gopro contest

Not only did GoPro give their customers a cool way to participate by showing off their purchase, but they’re also able to showcase their excitement in continued use of the product. While the sweepstakes only accepts entries from those who use their product, it’s still a great motivator to encourage people to buy their own GoPro to enter the photo contests!

More than anything, people want to be involved, especially your customers. When it comes to hosting a contest or giveaway, a great way to ensure that your brand gets recognized is by allowing your customers to participate. This goes way beyond just “liking” your Facebook page or commenting on a photo. Encourage your audience to share their experience with your brand, and you might be surprised as to what you get as a result.

ESPN

With over 30,000 hours of curated sports content and several household video marketing campaigns, ESPN is a heavy-hitter on social media. ESPN’s Sports Center brand features prominently among the company’s video content with the “#SCtop10 hashtag,” “This is SportsCenter” commercials, and feature segments under #SCFeatured. These hashtag campaigns make it easy for viewers to find new and favorite content, while the highly popular “This is SportsCenter” spots are entertaining advertising rather than tedious.

this is sports center

ESPN’s Youtube channel is an instance of putting a media platform to work for your brand. Your business can get the most out of Youtube when you give people options. It’s best if you publish your video under your own channel, where it’s easy to find and you can add to your SEO strategy for search engines.

 

Hilary Smith is an online journalist, covering everything from small business news to globalization. She loves contributing her knowledge about social media, eCommerce, and business communications on her blog.