Summer is finally here! I know this well, not because it’s hot (I live in the tropics and is always hot), I know because the summer movie blockbusters ads have taken over the airways. Every print ad, TV ad, web ad and fast food chain 48-ounce special-collector soda cup is heralding this summer’s hordes of super heroes who are being dusted off and recycled from comic book oblivion for the masses. The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spiderman and the Dark Knight (that’s just Batman for all of us Baby Boomers who won’t subscribe to the Hollywood’s marketing name change) are coming our way to save us from every possible villain that could wipe out humanity. These guys can do anything, except of course the obvious thing we need saving from this summer: a bad movie. Hollywood has mastered, not the art of making movies, but of making trailers. You know what I’m talking about; this summer as we gather around the water cooler on Mondays to reminisce about our weekend escapes to the Mega Movie Plex many of us will utter these words, “Well, you know, the trailer was better than the movie.”
Right on time for the summer blockbuster overdrive avalanche, comes along the biggest blockbuster of them all: The Facebook IPO. And guess what? “The trailer was better than the movie!” For weeks before the IPO, the whole world stopped caring about everything and focused on tech, financial and fashion news outlets dishing out every detail about the IPO. What will the final initial stock price will be? Will CEO Mark Zuckerberg show up to ring the bell with a business suit or his traditional hoodie? How one co-founder scrambled to escape Uncle Sam’s taxing grip by renouncing his American citizenship. How the IPO will make a graffiti artist, who early on painted the Facebook headquarters in exchange for stock, a bona fide billionaire for his spray paint works. But in the end, the stock dipped south and the precious social network initial public offering quickly shed a chunk of its valuation in just three days. As, I’m writing this column, allegations of mishandling from Facebook, Nasdaq and lead underwriting bankers are floating around like debris after the Titanic smashed the iceberg. Not sure what we can do to get even? Ahh! Maybe we can “unlike” them all on Facebook.
Financial calamity aside, we all really need to pull back a bit and look at what this company has done. I won’t rehash the many facts that can be searched for on the web about their millions of users, and how many billion hours are spent by people all around the world there. To me, at its core, the way to be awed by what Facebook has done is to see how it connects you to the people in your life. Whether you are a Facebook addict, a casual user or you just use it to promote your business, Facebook connects you with others and it does so in a massive scope we have never seen before. They have also changed the rules of size and volume; being big in the real world does not mean you will be big on Facebook. In our own industry, take a look at Denso’s page with close to 100,000 likes; clearly Denso has done things right on Facebook.
Many of our readers wonder if their companies should be on Facebook. The polite answer is simple — hell yes! First of all, to set up a Facebook page for any business is free and it will probably be the only piece of marketing and advertising you could ever set for that price that has the potential to reach thousands of your targeted audience. By being on Facebook, you open up a channel to build relationships with customers and your community while increasing customer acquisition; the old “word of mouth” recommendations are alive and well on Facebook they just happen electronically instead than in the town’s diner or backyard BBQ. No doubt, your business will connect with others users multiplying your opportunities to increase your sales.
In business, you have to go to were your customers are. There are other social networks out there, but all are dwarfed in size and scope by Facebook. This means that, whether you realize or not, your customers are on Facebook right now and if you are not, they simply cannot connect with you. But not only customers gather on Facebook, your vendors and your competitors are also there. Learn to monitor these pages as well and you will mine a fortune of data that can help ascertain how they promote products and programs via social networks.
We are not that big on Facebook; our company’s page does not even have a thousand fans, but still, business finds its way to us; not vice-versa, which is a refreshing change. I have gotten orders for parts on Facebook. I never set out to do this, but it happened just because customers are connecting with us; with me! How valuable is that to anyone is sales?
Regardless of the number of likes we have, our traffic spikes when we post pictures from a company event on or Facebook page; not everyone hits the “like” button, but many do visit the page and Facebook gives you magnificent tracking data on all of this for free. Facebook users love looking at pictures (it ranks as the top activity preferred by their users worldwide) and our fans love them, too. Every time we post pictures of a company events, our traffic multiplies. This increases the opportunity for customers to connect with us. We have many tales of customers who were able to put a face to the voice of our customer service employees by looking at a Facebook picture post. If you are in sales, be it a counterpro or a salesperson, a Facebook presence will also help you solidify existing relationships and create new ones by connecting to your customers who flock to the site daily.
I could be wrong, but the IPO debacle has little to do with how Facebook connects us all and will continue to do so. So much so, that I actually invested a bit on it and in no way am I losing sleep over it nor am I signaling The Avengers to abandon the summer blockbuster movie to come rescue me from IPO peril. Users love Facebook, we love customers. Let’s make sure we connect with them on our Facebook pages.