AKRON (Feb. 19, 2013) — These days, it seems like almost everybody has a Facebook page.
The other day I signed into to my personal account to discover my 79-year-old grandmother had friend requested me. Ever since then, she's been clicking away, "liking" various pictures of her 14 grandchildren and their children. I thought: "I wonder if she even knows what happens when she hits that 'Like' button?"
That is the topic of the blog today, as I wonder about many Tire Business readers who are taking on social media, starting up a Facebook account — and then getting stuck. What is too much? What is too little? What actually happens when you Like a photo with a cat playing a piano or an innovative piece of recycled tire art?
The Facebook Help Center page says: "When you click Like on a Facebook Page, in an advertisement, or on content off of Facebook, you are making a connection." A story about your like will appear on your timeline, it explains, which is your page on the site that contains all the activity you do on the site from posting pictures to liking different organizations.
The help center adds: "you may see updates to it in your news feed and the news feeds of your friends from pages you like. You may also receive messages. Your connection to the page may also be shared with apps on the Facebook Platform."
Don't understand what that means? Basically, when you Like a page, the people who have Liked your business page will be able to see what you Liked because it will appear in their news feed, which is what pops up when they log in. It is part of making that connection with your audience — your customers.
Facebook — and social media in general — helps establish ties between you and your current and potential customers. There are customers out there that may be looking for that connection—a person that they can feel comfortable with to perhaps service their car. As we all know, purchasing tires is a necessity purchase, not one a person necessarily goes out to do for fun on a Saturday afternoon.
With that said, it doesn't mean that customers still don't want to feel that connection and trust with a dealer they choose to do the work.
I recall sitting at the International Tire Exposition & Conference (ITEC) last September, just a few weeks after I started here at Tire Business. In one session, many of the tire dealership owners were discussing how it is so difficult to reach out to younger generations and those who are constantly on their phones while waiting for their vehicles to be serviced.
I kept thinking, hey, I'm one of those people.
I don't like to sit in silence, nor do I want to hold up people from their work, so I am on my phone until it is nearly dead, and then I'll watch the TV or pace around the waiting room, just to give me something to do. What am I doing on my phone, you ask? I am on Facebook.
So how do you reach people who are always on their phone? Get inside their phone.
This is not to say that outstanding customer service does not go a long way — even for a Generation Y-er like myself who always seems to be looking down at the phone screen. With that said, if I do have a good experience at a store or a restaurant, one of the first things I am going to do is post it so my friends can see it.
Having an active Facebook page can definitely help you reach these clients and also give you that needed "word-of-mouth" advertising to all their friends, both in person and, virtually, online.
Throughout researching for this social media blog, I have been studying many of your Facebook pages to see what types of posts work and what types do not. I will scroll through the Tire Business news feed and will see the type of pages and photos that dealerships are Liking.
I think there's a general fear with the Internet — the fear of a lack of a personal touch. But that touch is still in this type of connection, and it can spread quickly. For example, it's the time of year for a lot of car shows, and photos from those shows are being released.
Let's say there is a vehicle that has an innovative-looking tire that just blows you away. You decide to share it on your company Facebook page.
Then, maybe someone in your store is waiting for their tires and thinks the service is going really well, so as they are scrolling through Facebook, they decide to check out whether your store has a Facebook page. They see you do so they Like it and start scrolling through your content.
He or she sees that photo of the car and also thinks the innovative design is cool and decides to Like it. Now every person the customer is friends with on Facebook can see this picture and can see that it came from your page.
If that customer has 300-plus Facebook friends, they are all going to see that photo and know that it originated with you. If they need some tires, your name can stand out because of this connection.
The other Liking scenario that I have seen from many dealership websites is Liking other local businesses. It is true that we are all a part of the tire business community, but many of the independent shops that have one, two, three, or even more, locations are also a part of the local business community. If you show support for local businesses, they can do the same for you.
So in the end, Liking is not this scary tool on Facebook, but rather a way to spread the word — about your business, about your likes or dislikes — to a lot of people. Liking different pages, photos and posts gets your name on more and more news feeds.
One last bit of advice: You may want to make sure at least the majority of the posts and photos you are Liking are relevant to your business.
If you have any questions or have an idea about a social media aspect you would like to learn more about, call me at 330-865-6143 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Karpus is a Tire Business reporter.