Your shop may already have a strong Facebook presence, but Jenna Gross, chief marketing officer of marketing firm Moving Targets, believes that if you don’t consistently use its Messenger app, you’re missing out on a valuable communication tool. Facebook has over 2 billion users, and of those, 1.2 billion use Messenger, Facebook’s instant messaging service.
Facebook users often use the Messenger service to communicate with friends and family, but data gathered by Facebook itself show they often use it to communicate with businesses, as well. As of 2017, 60 million businesses participate in the service, sending over 2 billion messages to their existing and potential customer bases each month.
The social network claims 90 percent of users access Facebook on their mobile devices, which means Facebook can be a free alternative to text services as a mobile communication tool for your shop, Gross says.
For one, you’re reaching customers in the way they want to be communicated with. But for another, you can also gain valuable insight on how customers interpret your online presence. For instance, if people consistently ask you what your hours are, your shop may have an issue of not making that clear enough.
With the overwhelming array of possible apps and pages to work with on Facebook, Gross says Messenger is the most important app to use in communicating with customers and growing your business. Gross provides a primer on how to do just that.
How to Use Facebook Messenger
Aside from just answering general questions from your customer base, Messenger has a variety of other uses. Gross lays out three ways your shop should utilize Messenger:
1. Address complaints.
If someone adds a negative review or complaint on your page, Gross says you shouldn’t reply to the comment. Doing this, she says, can add fuel to the fire and make the situation get out of hand.
Instead, you should message the customer’s account directly to hear out his or her concerns and the customer them one-on-one attention. It shows on the customer’s post that you responded through Messenger so visitors know you’re not ignoring customers, and you took care of the issue offline.
According to Gross, if you, as a business owner, directly address the customer’s concerns, they may end up with a change of heart. She quotes a study done by Yelp, which found that when a business owner replies to a comment, one out of three users turn around and then post a positive review, or delete their review altogether.
“They’ll often calm down once you acknowledge them,” Gross says. “We find a lot of the time, most people just want to be heard.”
Nevertheless, you should be careful what you say over the private message. If you say something insensitive or offensive, the user can always screenshot your post and share it with other users, turning a bad PR situation into something much worse.
2. Send automated messages.
For the times when you might not be at the office or on Facebook, Messenger lets you use automation to your advantage. It’s easy to institute automated away messages, but some of the more interactive elements, like coordinating appointments and offering reminder messages, take a bit more skill.
Basic automatic “away” messages are fairly simple to set up, as Facebook itself offers bots that can do these commands. You can set up and edit your main “away” message in the settings area at the top of your Facebook page.
At the bare minimum, Gross says, you can set up a basic message that essentially tells customers their messages are important to you, and you will be in touch within 24 hours. Within this, it’s also good to include your website so the customer can access your website’s basic information.
Quick Reply, a tool within Facebook Messenger, looks at specific keywords, and can send automated information from your business based on the common questions your customers might ask. Regardless of how somebody phrases a question, if customers want to know your hours of operation, they’ll likely have the words “hours” or “open” somewhere in their messages, which, if set up correctly, the bot will recognize and send the correct accompanying message.
Gross says that websites like ManyChat.com can help you set up effective automated messages for a monthly fee. If you have a company designated to manage your social media, Gross says they should be able to set up the more complex automated messages.
3. Send out direct ads.
Messenger ads are a relatively new service instituted by Facebook in November 2016 as a way for a business to directly communicate with its user base. Targeted users see Messenger ads in the home tab of their Messenger mobile app and can interact with them just like they do with regular messages. The direct aspect of these can work to your advantage, and Gross says these are often more effective than typical Facebook ads.
If a user is on your site for an extended period of time, you can message them an ad specifically asking them if they have questions. This can build a relationship over Messenger quickly with a potential customer, and offers a non-intimidating communication channel.
“With auto repair especially, there’s a much bigger stress factor that comes into play,” Gross says. “With the more expensive purchases, you need something that’s consistently reliable, and can build their trust.”
When users tap on an ad, they are sent to a destination chosen during the ad’s creation, which could be your website, an app or a conversation on Messenger.
On Facebook, the Ads Manager page allows you to create and customize ads to your specific audience, depending on who you want to reach and how much money you’re willing to spend. Gross says that these cost the same as other ads on Facebook, and the average cost per click for ads in all industries is $1.72.