Ken Hinton first started promoting Diamondback Restoration & Collision, his La Vernia, Texas-based restoration shop, on his personal Facebook profile page to improve his shop’s search engine rankings.
“I was submitting my website to a bunch of search engines and they said the more links that you get, the quicker you can be found on search engines,” he said. “I thought I would make another link [to my website] on Facebook. I started checking my web stats after that and [found] a lot of website hits came from Facebook, so it worked.”
Hinton has been so pleased with the response his website and shop have gotten from exposure on Facebook that he recently created a specific profile page for Diamondback Restoration & Collision.
“It makes more sense, if someone would be looking for anything about cars on Facebook, they wouldn’t type in my name, so I figured I would get more exposure that way,” Hinton said of the shop’s new Facebook page.
While Hinton uses Facebook to help boost the rankings on Diamondback Restoration & Collision’s website, Clean Cut Creations in Webster Groves, Missouri, uses its Facebook fan page to do things its website can’t, namely provide daily project updates.
“Facebook is a little easier to update and -¦ it’s just a little more complicated and time-consuming to do [on] our website,” said Joann Kuehl of Clean Cut Creations. “On Facebook we’re able to quickly upload pictures and link pictures, so I update that with what’s happening in the shop right now, but on our website you might find out what happened in the shop a week or two weeks ago.”
Rules of Engagement
Facebook has more than 400 million active users, about half of which are logged in on any given day, according to the social media company. Those users, which include individuals, businesses, bands and non-profit organizations with personal profile pages or fan pages, average 55 minutes spent on Facebook each day.
“I would love to have somebody in the store for 55 minutes at a time, or on the phone or on my website for 55 minutes,” said Chris Ripper with The Aftermarketer Club, an online marketing agency that has a Facebook fan page. “It’s a huge opportunity.”
Finding the right message to engage that huge audience is key.
“Content is king when engaging your fans on Facebook, so make sure to post fun and interesting photos and videos on your page,” said Annie Ta, a Facebook spokesperson. “Whether it’s photos of your store’s newest product arrivals or a video -¦ sharing tips, consider what behind-the-scenes content will keep your fans engaged with your page and company.”
Ripper suggests treating Facebook like a cocktail party to keep visitors engaged, being sure to keep the conversation going without making a hard sale.
“It’s a great place to have a conversation with your customers in an environment that they want to be in, versus you advertising and trying to drag them into your business,” he said. “Now you can go out where they are and talk to them in a casual environment, just like if you were at a cocktail party. It’s a more-relaxed environment.”
Precision Restorations in St. Louis uses its Facebook fan page to get discussions going with its audience.
“The Facebook page is more [for] just socializ[ing] with people, [like] I’ll ask questions like ‘what’s your favorite muscle car between 1970 and 1980,'” Jon Hantsbarger of Precision Restoration said. “When you’re working on social networks, it’s about engaging them and talking with them, asking questions, posting trivia.”
Keeping it Current
Like Clean Cut Creations has discovered, one of the benefits of having a Facebook page is the ability to do regular updates. Maintaining that pace is essential to the success of a Facebook page.
“My rule of thumb when it comes to any social media is content is king, and if you don’t have the stuff that people want to see and it’s not fresh and new and you’re not constantly updating it, then people have no reason to come back, and we want to keep people coming back,” said John Zara with SEM Products, which has a fan page. “Always put new stuff up. Otherwise it gets stale and people migrate, they don’t come back, and that’s not good.”
Dana Schaeffer of Chop-Shop Customs in Woburn, Massachusetts, updates the shop’s Facebook fan page two to three times a day.
“I may run a special for a day, I may ask a general question to start getting feedback -¦ just something to keep our fans interacting with us,” she said. “I don’t want them to think that it’s just a page that you join and you never hear from anybody again. We want to let our people know that we’re very interactive, we care about the fact that they took the time to become fans of our page, and we want to let them know what’s going on in our world in case they have questions about anything or want to have vehicles built.”
If fans are leaving comments for you, they expect a response.
“Make sure you’re answering questions or comments,” Ripper said. “If you’re not, it’s the same as somebody walking in your store or calling you on the phone and you not answering. You don’t want to let a question or comment go [unanswered] over 24 hours.”
Having a Facebook page can have many benefits for your business, including improving traffic for your website and getting your name out to a national audience. Facebook can even be a venue for finding potential employees.
“It’s tough to find good body men these days; it’s always nice to have someone inquire about employment,” said Diamondback Restoration & Collision’s Hinton, who’s gotten employment inquiries via Facebook.
Facebook can also lead to new work.
“I’ve gotten one $30,000 job that came through Facebook,” said Hantsbarger of Precision Restoration, which has had its Facebook fan page for about six months. “They were not a fan but they did view our page on Facebook. Then another person recently called from a banner ad that was up on Facebook. I’ve gotten a $30,000 job from it in six months, that’s a good [return on investment].”