You’ve had it with your lawn care company. They’re cutting corners (both figuratively and literally), leaving messes and raising prices. You’re ready to give them the boot and find a new company. You haphazardly chose your current company because they were the first one you found in the phone book with relatively good pricing. This time, you’ll do it different.As many people do when shopping locally, you post a Facebook status asking your friends for their opinions. An old coworker comments on your post, recommending the lawn company they’ve been using for years. Your neighbor mentions another. Naturally, you search for both businesses on Facebook. It’s after typical business hours, so you decide to shoot them both a message rather than calling them in hopes that they’ll get back to you by the next time you need your lawn done.
Ten minutes later your phone lights up with a notification. Who would’ve known? One of the companies messaged back almost immediately. In about 30 minutes, you've developed a relationship with the company owner, set up a time for them to come check out your lawn and got a solid idea of the pricing. Quick, easy and productive.
Now, let’s switch gears and look at the small business side of things. The lawn care owner who won the business was responsive and available. The winning secret? This small business used the Facebook Messenger App and turned a passive inquiry into a new client.
Facebook Messenger for Small Local Businesses Just Makes Sense
Facebook Messenger is commonly thought of as a way to communicate with friends and family. However, more than one billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Messenger each month. As a brand manager, are you encouraging your affiliates to take advantage of the benefits of the popular app? Facebook has rolled out several new features that your local affiliates should know of when it comes to Facebook Messenger:
Adopt Response Time feature to help your business’s reputation
When a Facebook user goes to message a business, response times appear on both the About section and in the chat window. Small businesses have the ability to set their response time to be “within minutes,” “within an hour,” “within hours” or “within a day.” Small business owners should set a realistic expectation for their response time and stick to it – err on the side of a larger window at first so you can exceed expectations.
According to Facebook, if a small business owner responds to 90 percent of messages within 15 minutes, they will get a “Very responsive to messages” badge on their homepage. Although this may seem to be a lofty goal, it’s not unreasonable in the world of mobile devices, and in the long run, worth it for the business.
Claim business URLs or create a Username to be easier to find
If a business already has a Facebook business page, it already has a custom URL. If the vanity URL is claimed (for example, Facebook.com/BrandmuscleLawnCare), that that will become the page’s username. Think of this as your unique name. For example, there might be another Brandmuscle Lawn Care out there somewhere. Small businesses can make it easier for consumers to find them by setting a page username that is specific to them. It will show up directly on your page under your page title with a ‘@’ before it, (for example, @BrandmuscleLawnCare), making it visible and accessible for the user. Because the username is so unique, it’s easier for users to search for small businesses and, in turn, begin to connect with them via Messenger.
Use Messenger Links and Codes so it's easy for customers to start a conversation
Messenger links are short, memorable URLs using the format m.me/username. Digitally, when clicked, the user is taken directly to the app and can begin communicating with the business. In person, with Messenger codes, users can scan the businesses code by taking a picture with their smartphone and be taken directly to the messenger app. This is similar to a QR code and has been popularized by Snapchat to add friends. Businesses can use both the short links and the codes to reach their audience both digitally and in-person in marketing materials such as advertisements, flyers, social media and websites, making it easier for potential clients to reach out.
Create Messenger Greetings to set the tone
When small businesses set up the messenger greeting, users will see an introductory note in the message thread when they go to contact the business. This offers the business a customized, personal introduction before the user even says hello and sets the tone for the conversation. As a brand manager, it’s important to help your affiliate think through what tone they want to set in the pop-up and how they can use this feature to their advantage depending on their specific business (i.e. asking customer for certain details, showing a humorous side, etc.)
Facebook is often thought of as a vital marketing tool for local businesses, whether it’s through posting content organically or using the platform for advertising purposes. However, Facebook is catching on to the needs of small business owners, and customizing its features to benefit them.
As a brand manager, have you encouraged your local affiliates to use the Facebook Messenger App to their advantage? If not, educate them on the benefits and how to set it up. It’s another quick, simple way for them to connect with potential customers.
Check out Brandmuscle’s social media solution for franchisees and local affiliates that combines technology, content and expert support all in one platform.