by Tony Vidler
Many advisers wanting more customers are hesitant about using Facebook for business as they struggle to figure out where the line is between being social and being commercial and being too personal. Understandable really…it IS a blurry area for everyone, including the consumers who don’t really go to Facebook for business generally, but Facebook itself is trying to engage them commercially.
It helps to understand what the primary objective is when using Facebook (or any other social platform) as an adviser. For some it is about creating transactions; for many it is a lead generation tactic. For most thought it is an engagement strategy with customers and prospects where we are gently trying to build trust. If that is the case for your business then I think the line is pretty much here:
The thing to remember about using Facebook for business purposes is that is used primarily for entertainment and interaction amongst friends and peers at a personal level. It follows that to build an audience and have them engage with you on Facebook (even for business purposes ultimately) that you have to step away from the professional image a little and be prepared to show a little bit of yourself as another human being.
People connect with people, especially people who are like themselves. Is it coincidental that most professionals do most of their work with people within 5 years of their own age, and who have similar values and beliefs?
So we need to use Facebook in a similar manner to our audience if we want them to connect and engage with us, and for them to be prepared to listen to the business stuff on occasions. We have to interact – make comments; respond to comments; be present regularly in our audiences lives….but keep it fairly light-hearted and place greater emphasis upon engagement than upon educating.
After all, when your prospects and clients are on Facebook it is their downtime….it is when they finished work and want to relax and chill a little…
But people generally don’t have time for show-boaters and show-off’s. A mistake I see many professionals making is is that of making themselves the hero of their own Facebook page. Sharing pictures of big boats and exotic locations, flash dinners and rubbing shoulders with the nearly-famous, and so on. There are a couple of problems with that:
By all means keep that sort of stuff for your personal Facebook page and share it with your family and friends if that is what you are comfortable doing, but not on the business Facebook page if you want to create better relationships and connection with clients and prospects. That brings us back to what you do share about yourself on the business page of course…
Show your humanity and show your human side. Causes and charities and community work should be show-cased. Involvement in the profession and professional recognition are “newsworthy” here. A peek at the personal world matters – you love fishing? By all means show the photo of the monster fish you caught…just don’t show your million-dollar boat off while doing it. You love a football team? Show your passion…pick a side….just don’t bag all the other teams as your audience are fans of all those others.
The point is you need to show some of your interests, and perhaps frailties (such as my addiction to coffee! everyone who follows my page knows my world simply cannot operate without copious volumes of caffeine…and they chuckle about it as it shows a weakness which makes one more human).
Where I personally draw the line on personal sharing is at religion, politics, sex and family. The first 3 topics are just dangerous and divisive ground, and are best avoided entirely as any discussion or postings will potentially create more enemies than friends. Family? No…no pictures or stories about my family and close friends appear on the business page – that is the line between business and personal accounts.
To create better engagement with your prospects and clients via Facebook you need to let them see a little bit of the private you. That is not the same as letting them into your personal and private world.
So there’s the dividing line in my view: keep your private life protected and private, and separate from your Facebook business life. In your Facebook business life you need to show up and show yourself a little, but never show off.