Expected customer support response times in social media.
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How to Avoid Being Unfriended By Your Facebook Fans

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The difference between Facebook and its buttoned-down counterpart, LinkedIn, is best summed up with this statistic: Facebook users spend an average of 6.5 hours per month on the site, while LinkedIn members spend just 17 minutes. In other words, people go to LinkedIn to solve problems quickly, but they go to Facebook to lounge.

Technology marketers should understand this distinction as they develop social media content for the world’s largest social network. Success on Facebook is about engagement and conversation. Creativity is critical, particularly since Facebook has recently been throttling back brands’ ability to gain access to the hallowed Facebook News Feed. Contests, brain teasers, and grabby photos work well—so does customer support.

Learn from the examples of technology gurus such as Intel, HP, Salesforce.com, Lenovo, and Constant Contact. Then, take these five tips to heart:

1. Surprise and Delight

Offer up a steady stream of memorable quotes, factoids, and trivia that people will want to share with their friends (the average adult Facebook user has 338 of them, according to Pew Research). Think of offbeat questions that tickle your audience’s imagination. For example, Intel recently asked, “If Shakespeare had a tablet, would he have live-tweeted his own plays?” while HP wondered, “How far have you gone to get Wi-Fi for a deadline?” Use popular hashtags such as #DidYouKnow to get your content in front of more people. Shares are the key to word-of-mouth branding.

2. Ask Questions

At least half of your posts should end with a question mark. When you share an experience, ask your fans to share one, too. When you add a new product feature, solicit feedback. Use polling apps to sample sentiment about industry trends or news stories. Facebook is a conversation—the more participants, the better.

3. Use Images

Numerous studies have shown that posts with images drive up considerably more responses than text-only or link posts. If you have grabby photos in your own library, that’s great. You can also find multimedia content that’s free to share on Wikimedia Commons and on Google Images (Choose “Search tools” and then “Image rights”). Or, drop a few bucks a month to subscribe to a stock photo service. You can also ask your fans to submit photos of themselves displaying your logo or using your product in an interesting way.

4. Offer Facebook-Only Promotions

This actually works for any social network. Offer downloads, coupons, free trials, and giveaways that are available only through your Facebook page. Send visitors to a Facebook landing page with a lead capture form. Pit fans against each other in a friendly competition, then feature the winner in a post, like Cisco did with its Super Fan promotion.

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5. Make Facebook a Customer Support Hub

If you have a Facebook page that accepts comments, you’re going to hear from customers, so be ready to treat customer support as a form of social media content. Answering customer questions on social media is actually a great way to speed up the time it takes to resolve and minimize dissatisfaction, but you have to be fast. One survey found that 24 percent of people who contact a brand via social media expect a reply within 30 minutes, regardless of the time of day the contact was made. Two-thirds demanded a response the same day.

This doesn’t mean you need to answer every question or resolve every complaint in real time. It does mean you need to acknowledge the contact and promise a timely response. The good news is 97 percent of angry customers can be rescued with a timely response, according to Dell. Even more remarkable is that 40 percent go on to become raving fans.

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