Social Media Part II: How to connect with customers on Facebook

A tool dealer's guide to using social media


Phil Sasso is the president of Sasso Marketing (www.sassomarketing.com), a technical marketing agency specializing in tools and equipment. Subscribe to his free marketing tips at philsasso.com./blog. I read your column in the last issue of Professional Distributor and was sold on the benefits of using social media for my business. I’ve been monitoring social media from my flag and my manufacturers like you said. Now I’m ready to do my own thing. Where should I start?   It’s best...


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I read your column in the last issue of Professional Distributor and was sold on the benefits of using social media for my business. I’ve been monitoring social media from my flag and my manufacturers like you said. Now I’m ready to do my own thing. Where should I start?

 

It’s best to dip your toes before diving in headfirst, says Jim O’Hara of Clore Automotive. In the March Sales Q&A column, I spoke with O’Hara because he’s a big proponent of social media for mobile dealers. (Read that column online at www.vehicleservicepros.com/10624470.) Here’s a mashup of his thoughts and mine on diving in when you’re ready.

Although Twitter is growing quickly, there are still more Facebook users, so I say start there. Once you’re up on Facebook you can use Twitter to point back to your Facebook tips, deals and promotions. Plus, if you already use Facebook personally, you’re ahead of the game since you already know the basics.

Establish an individual Facebook account.

Many of us already have a personal Facebook account, but if you don’t, you’ll need one. That’s because Facebook requires an administrator to manage the brand page. If you don’t want to use your personal account, consider establishing a “professional” Facebook account using your business email address and link your business page from there.

Don’t use your personal account for business.

Your customers don’t care about your Great Aunt Marge, your sports picks, or your skill at Farmville. Keep your business and personal life separate — you want to be all about tools to your customer.

Create your brand page.

Create a new brand page at www.facebook.com/pages/create.php.

Choose a good username.

On Facebook and Twitter, this is your handle to the social media world. Try to keep it short and memorable. Before you start you might even have a short list of backup ideas in case your first one is taken. Consider blending your flag name with your city, zip or area code like MacToolsChicago, MATCO90120 or Cornwell202. You can’t change it, so try to get a name that fits — but don’t stress over it. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “What’s in a Facebook name?”

Learn Facebook basics.

Get to know Facebook basics, if you don’t already. There’s a Facebook help center and YouTube channel that covers it all better than I can here (see sidebar, page 15). Don’t expect to learn it all in one night. Just get the basics down; you’ll learn the rest over time.

Take it slow.

“I think it’s best to start small,” says O’Hara. “Crawl before you walk. Walk before you run. Just plan to do a post or two a week when you’re beginning.”

If you over-commit, you’re more likely to fail, says O’Hara. But also, I think it’s important to consider your customer and be considerate. They don’t want to be flooded with information any more than you want to be flooded with information. A couple good posts a week are more than enough to keep their attention without overwhelming them.

You don’t need to be Hemingway.

Feel like your high school English teacher is looking over your shoulder? Don’t sweat it. Just use spell check and read your post over once or twice. Then click and post. You can always delete [posts if needed. And this is all among “friends” after all, right?

Also, let me be blunt: most social media is a lot of hot air. Keep yours simple and don’t post just to post. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything. Better to keep quiet that to post something dumb and tarnish your credibility.

To make it easier, subscribe to your flag and supplier’s emails and social media then just copy and paste interesting information. O’Hara suggests you add a personal note like “Thought you’d like this,” “I get my shipment next week” or “This is next week’s special. Should I reserve one for you?” Adding you own words makes a generic post more human.

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

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