Why Facebook Rooms are open for businessLeave a Comment (0) ↓
As someone who advises businesses, especially B2Bs, on how to get the best results from social networks, I am often asked if Facebook isn’t the first and most obvious choice to focus the activity.
My answer is generally ‘no’. Unless you plan to intervene in the personal conversations of individuals (predominantly young ones, albeit less so than previously).
But in one respect that has just changed. For now Facebook has introduced Rooms, a new app (initially for iOS) that doesn’t have to be linked to its mainstream network – which is potentially a good thing for businesses – and it allows participants to adopt nom-de-plumes, thus partially countering the bad press that it got recently for forbidding this on Facebook, as I reported.
Although it is being billed as a way for people to chat on their chosen topic, there is an opportunity here for businesses to get groups of like-minded people – buyers in your specific B2B segment, for example – to share tips, air common issues and suggest solutions, work-arounds, etc. By hosting such forum-type conversations, you gain a halo effect for your brand. It is akin to setting up a LinkedIn Group or a Google+ Circle.
You are also able to seed the Room with video and photo material, to add interest and spice up the participants’ interest.
Open Door Policy
As ever, my advice to you as a potential moderator is not to get too ‘corporate’ in your handling of the debates. Allow fair criticism and be prepared to admit when you may have got something wrong. By all means publish news and comment, but don’t attempt to stifle or overly direct the direction of the group.
And when someone is mean or destructive you of course can and should censure or bar them. Don’t forget – you created the topic for the Room and you have a duty of care to the rest of the people who have voluntarily signed up for it.
Note the other instructive point – Facebook grew huge on the back of desktop PC access, and has since been playing catch-up while newer, flashier entrants like Pinterest, Instagram and Vine rode the tide as mobiles became the dominant access medium for social media. Here we see Facebook launching a new sub-network that will at first work only on Apple phones and tablets, with Android to follow: and only then will it add desktop access.
Facebook’s publicity has made a lot of how Rooms is bringing back the days of the chat room and the forum – which is interesting because many of these in earlier times were set up by user groups of a particular car manufacturer, or motorbike, or computer, or pretty much any product or service that generated common queries and issues, often worldwide. It didn’t matter that you were anonymous, and in fact that aspect actually encouraged frankness because it overcame the fear of retribution or spamming.
Room to Let
My conclusion therefore is that if you have a sizeable customer base then you had better consider setting up your own Room or Rooms: for if you do not, you can expect independent moderators to set up and start to talk about you, without you having any control of the situation.
You may feel that running Rooms is a bit like doing your own market research focus groups – something that is best left to the professionals. It may well be so, for the majority of firms that do not have spare personnel with the right experience to carry out the task. In which case, Hannon Digital in London is perfectly placed to work with you (wherever you are) to get positive results from this and all other new initiatives that are spawned by the social media networks.