Once upon a time, Facebook was the social network for college friends only. Then it was opened up to anyone to join. It was a free-for-all of friends keeping in touch without any special filtering getting in the way of seeing your friend's status updates.
When they let businesses join, there was a sudden surge of unwanted solicitations and plenty of users complaining that they were seeing too many business posts in their news feed. As is all things internet related, businesses viewed Facebook as the latest and greatest method of online marketing, and it was heavily abused, which eventually led to the extremely restrictive filtering that we have today. You can overcome that filtering by boosting your posts with at least $1 for a day.
Facebook strategies for sharing content are hot topics every online marketer is talking about. It seems like there are new strategies popping up every day, from how to grow 10,000 fans to creating the perfect Facebook post to using Facebook as your new video platform. There's no shortage of blog posts talking about Facebook marketing methodology for businesses, my own blog included.
To recap again, Facebook went from a friend network, to a marketing network, to a selling platform, and now I see it slowly evolving into a customer support platform.
Customer Support Through Facebook
For quite a while now Facebook has provided several tools to help keep users more closely connected. Private messages can be shared between you and your friends quite easily. You could share a status update to just a single friend, or you can use Facebook Messenger for an ongoing two-way chat with someone. When you turn on the Facebook Messenger feature on your desktop computer and in your smartphone app, you'll see a green dot next to each of your friends who are online right now, which is quite inviting and makes it easy to contact them even at the oddest of hours.
This messaging system might have been created for friends, but it's moving further and further towards a customer support system. Over the last few years, I've had several customers who preferred to contact me through Facebook messenger than send an email or call, especially when they needed to get in touch with me right away outside of normal business hours. As I am watching Facebook's trends and changes, I'm starting to see an increase in the number of people directly communicating with employees of businesses, and the number of questions coming through Facebook pages are increasing.
Facebook itself is starting to promote this method of customer service communication. In November 2015, Facebook started rewarding business pages that were responding quickly to customer communications. Customers can contact a business through the button at the top of your business page shown here:
Message notifications are then sent to the managers of the page. I've found that the fastest way to keep up with these messages is by using the Facebook Pages app on the smartphone. You can set the app to show push notifications. Businesses who reply quickly to private messages are rewarded with an extra message on their page like what you see here:
That response time will appear on your page if you personally visit your page at least once per week and you answer 90% or more of the messages customers send you. The screen grab below shows how you can get to the Response Time settings. These settings will allow you to choose from response times in minutes, hours, or days.
There's also a "Very responsive to messages" badge that your page can get. Shown below, this badge is only available to pages that respond quickly and consistently to private messages for the last 7 days. Specifically, you have to reply to 90% of the messages within 15 minutes.
Success on Facebook comes from developing customer relationships. Those relationships won't exist unless you have two way communications, and now Facebook is clearly indicating which pages respond quickly. Every business should more actively monitor the messages that are sent through Facebook; assign the job to an employee if needed.
I foresee a lot more customer communication that will transfer from normal email, and even telephone, over to Facebook messages. For me personally, there have been plenty of times when I've sent emails to businesses through their website's contact form. I always wonder if I'll ever hear from them, or if I should just call or visit. Given the option to message them on Facebook, I certainly would prefer contacting them through a medium where I know they will "Typically reply within an hour."
Now that you've finished reading this, go download the Facebook Pages app to your smartphone and see if there are any messages waiting for you right now.