Engaging clients or prospects on Facebook can present plenty of golden opportunities, but sometimes you have to deal with the occasional disgruntled client openly – in public view of all your other customers. Yet this public engagement is what is so valuable for you as a freelancer. Facebook is a valuable part of branding your design business and making it and you much more personal to clients.
People like having a soapbox from which they can tout both negativities and excitements. They also like getting involved in a highly popular event from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Almost everyone likes being able to connect one-on-one, even with strangers, as long as the connection is not face-to-face. Something about being behind a computer screen gives us all levels of social boldness we otherwise wouldn’t have.
These aspects and more are what make Facebook so important to web designers. The key is knowing how to handle the contact and make it work for you, not against you. Learn the etiquette of how to engage clients on Facebook, and your freelance business will be much more likely to create clients that stick with you for a long time to come. Of course, you may find clients engaging with you more on a site like Google+ or MySpace, but the tips below can easily be used for any social media site similar to the pace of Facebook with only a little tweaking.
Nuances Unique to Facebook Engagement
Facebook allows anybody who has liked your public page to leave a comment all the world can see. This is unique because on sites like Twitter, such commentary may go unnoticed by everyone, as it quickly disappears down your feed of mentions.
Unlike Twitter, you can’t ignore a comment on your Facebook page – it’s front and center. And if others "like" the comment, you may be stuck with a comment at the top of your feed indefinitely. This can be great for positive feedback, of course, but a negative comment could stick with you longer than you’d like.
While you can simply delete a bad wall post, this will typically result in a barrage of even more negativity. The trick is to comment on posts on your page, both negative and positive. Leaving a comment on positive posts will help it to remain at the top of your page longer. Leaving a comment on a negative post is also helpful, however. Ask how you can repair the problem, directing the commenter to the appropriate point of contact. Sometimes this can result in a commenter coming back to leave a positive update of how helpful you were in solving their problem.
You Must Be Listening To Hear
You’ll never know to respond if you are not monitoring your Facebook page for comments. If you are able, assign this task to someone else so that you can focus on getting projects done. If you are your only resource, however, simply have the alerts come through an email so that you never miss comments. Then set aside time every day, possibly even twice a day if activity is high, to respond to posts.
The worst thing that can happen is that a negative (or positive) comment goes unnoticed and no response is given. The main benefit of Facebook is the opportunity of involvement with your clients. If you are not actively engaging in every happening on your page, then customers will quit trying to make that connection. And prospects who are researching your services may equate your lack of engagement as a sign of flakiness in your business practices.
Have a Plan
Whenever comments start coming through, have a game plan for how you will respond. This will save you time trying to come up with a way to respond each time. It will also give your assistance (if you are not the one responding to comments) a policy to follow. Here’s a short, high-level overview:
- Negative Comments
- Simple complaints – follow up with helpful, empathetic response. Direct them to email/ contact page.
- Serious complaints – follow up with helpful response and offer to call them. Also direct to contact page and email.
- Extreme complaints – respond right away and call immediately.
- Positive Comments
- Follow up with a "Thank You".
- Once a month aggregate the comments into a testimonial-like post.
- Neutral Comments
- Follow up as appropriate.
While this plan is very basic, it still gives enough guidelines to make responding a bit easier, and it gives enough room so that you can tailor responses to your clients and the situations. One of the benefits of Facebook is that sometimes all an individual comment requires is a simple "Like".
You’re going to get negative feedback. It happens. People are people and stuff breaks. So be ready, listen, and have a plan for how you’re going to handle both the good and the bad. If you are consistently engaging with your clients on Facebook, these customers will be more likely to feel a personal connection with your business, which helps to safeguard you against clients switching to a competitor.