If the popularity and success of Quora is any indication, online Q&A sites and features are here to stay – which may be one reason why Facebook recently unveiled a new Questions tool that is already starting to pop up in some users’ feeds. Over on Mashable, Brian Anthony Hernandez has a great post on this new feature can be a real boon to local business marketing on Facebook – especially for SMBs who may be struggling to develop stronger relationships and boost engagement with existing and prospective customers. Here are the top 3 reasons to start using Questions on Facebook to market your business:
1. It’s an opportunity to make market research and crowdsourcing fun and engaging.
Knowing what your customers are thinking, feeling and wanting is like striking gold when it comes to creating and adjusting your online marketing strategy. Want to know what color of nail polish to stock in your spa this summer? Ask your customers what shades they’re coveting most. Or maybe you run a golf range and want to offer classes but are not sure when to schedule them. As a communication strategist in the Mashable article put it, “The best part about this is that it’s in a trusting, social and real-time setting. The opportunity to gain instant feedback from a brand’s biggest fans is amazing.” Making your fans feel like they have a say in how your business operates gives them a sense of ownership, which is a powerful way to strengthen the business-customer relationship. But even more impressive is that when your customers and fans answer or follow your question, their friends can see and answer it too, giving it (and your brand!) even more exposure on Facebook. Data like this can have a lot of mileage beyond Facebook, too: post results and new suggestions on your blog, Twitter or other sites to give a healthy injection of fresh content to your web presence.
2. The multiple-choice format is simple and effective.
One of the reasons social media keeps soaring in popularity is that we love to talk about ourselves. We love to share information about our likes, dislikes, preferences, and opinions about everything from politics to ice cream. Giving your fans on Facebook an easy way to make their voices heard with a single click reduces friction: it takes barely any time at all. And as Hernandez notes, “The other great thing about Questions is it comes with a setting that allows users to add more answers to the multiple-choice answers.” If you ask the right questions, and your fans are feeling particularly chatty, they’ll keep the conversation rolling.
3. It’s an app built for Facebook by Facebook.
Facebook’s Questions tool is an app developed and automatically distributed throughout the platform by Facebook itself – not a third-party developer. This means users who are wary of scams masquerading of third-party apps or who hesitate at permission requests to access personal info can breathe easier. And even though there are perfectly adequate third-party polling or questions-like apps available, having an “official” version of Questions on the platform means more people may be more likely to participate in and use it themselves. There’s nothing to download, nothing to connect – all your customer has to do is click!
Facebook’s Questions option is a great way to give your business some brand exposure across the entire site while gathering valuable market research data and giving people everywhere a chance to engage with your business. But it’s important to note that once you ask a question on Facebook, it can eventually be seen by everyone on the site. That’s why you need to pay particular attention to the “Allow anyone to add options” setting:
Checking this box gives any Facebook user the power to add a new multiple choice option to your question. This is great way to discover new ideas you may not have even considered – but can also lead to undesirable, off-topic or just plain inappropriate submissions. If you enable this setting, it’s crucial that you follow the question so you can monitor what users are contributing (which is something you should be doing anyway!).
For example, we asked the question “When you’re researching a local business online, where do you turn first?” on the official ReachLocal page on Facebook. One user submitted the option “Billboards,” which is an offline format – not an online destination – so we chose to remove that question. Here’s how to do it:
1. Click on the question, then select “Edit Options”
2. Find the user-submitted option you want to delete, then remove it by clicking the “x” on the right.
3. When prompted, select “Delete Option”
4. That’s it! You’ll see a confirmation message and your poll no longer reflects that option or any votes associated with it.
Of course, if you don’t feel like constantly checking up on your question to make sure all the options are appropriate and relevant, simply disable the option by un-checking the “Allow anyone to add options” box.
Have you already started seeing some questions in your Facebook feed? What kinds of questions would you start asking your customer base on Facebook? Let us know with a comment.