This post is by Jim Belosic, co-founder and president of Pancake Laboratories, the creator of ShortStack, an application built on the Facebook platform that offers affordable, white-label tab design including contests, commenting, sharing and many other easy-to-use features.
You’ve created contests, implemented giveaways and given superlative support to your company’s Facebook fans. Your fan base loves your product and services, and it regularly engages and interacts with your page. Now that you’ve cultivated your online community, you can crowdsource some of your efforts.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, “crowdsourcing” is a play on “outsourcing.” But whereas outsourcing is offloading work to one specific entity, crowdsourcing opens the work up to the masses. Perhaps the most widely known example is Wikipedia, where a community of users takes the responsibility to check and maintain the site’s information. Facebook provides an interesting platform for businesses to crowdsource some of their efforts that, if approached correctly, can produce some great results. Remember that these benefits are predicated on building, nurturing and supporting your fan base, so take the time to interact and engage with your fans.
Every time one of your fans comments on, likes or shares your content, that action appears in the person’s news feed and his or her friends can see it. By posting status updates that invite responses and likes and creating interesting, sharable content, you transform your fans into virtual advertising agents who do your work for you — for free! That’s the reason getting comments, likes and shares on your content should be your No. 1 crowdsourcing goal on Facebook. This strategy is especially effective with shared material. Because a link back to the page of the content’s creator stays with a share, it’s a great way to get a ton of attention.
Post status updates asking for feedback from your fans. Why did they start using your service? Why did they choose your product over a competitor’s? How are they using your products? What additional products would they like to see you offer? People love to give their opinions, so mine them for information. Here, Starbucks introduces a new blend of coffee and heads straight to their fans to see how well it’s liked:
Engaging and interacting with your fan base is something that needs to be done consistently. But there might be times you find yourself running out of ideas for ways to connect. So put your next contest or promotion in the hands of your fans: Ask them what they want to see. Not only does this give you direction, but because these ideas are coming from your fans, you also know that whatever they suggest will be successful.
Dealing with support issues and answering product questions dominates most page administrators’ time. After you’ve engaged with your fans for a period of time by answering questions and offering support, you’ll notice that your fans will be more active on your page, even to the point of assisting one another. What’s great about getting this community support is that your time investment begins to diminish. Fans see help coming from other fans as honest and reliable.
A fan on CCM Hockey’s Page has a question about CCM’s hockey sticks, and is given advice and recommendations from other users, just like him:
The next time you’re looking for an employee, take it to your Facebook fans first, by making a couple of wall posts soliciting resumes. Your fans are people who appreciate and are familiar with your company. Hiring them will streamline the process of getting new hires up to speed. Depending on the number of fans, you might already be receiving e-mails consistently from fans looking for work. Regardless of whether your business is hiring, save these resumes. This is where your next search for an employee should start — with the people who already want to work for you.
Looking for a tax accountant? In need of some legal advice? Admins can get a lot of mileage out of their page’s wall by posting the fact that they’re in the market for expert help. Chances are you’ve got a fan or two who can provide exactly what your business needs — or at least point you in the right direction. Similar to the benefits of hiring employees who are already fans of your company, the advantage of soliciting business from your fans is that they’re already familiar with and have an understanding of your products or services.