Make Better Connections With Facebook’s New Message Features




  • Your customers are reaching out to you. Are you ignoring them? Columnist Alison Zeringue discusses new Facebook features that make it easier to respond to messages and explains how you can leverage these tools to increase your social ROI.




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    Imagine walking into a retail business to make a purchase just to be completely ignored. No one responds to your “Good morning!” greeting or answers the question you ask about their products; they just continue doing whatever they were doing when you walked in.


    Imagine if that happened 88 percent of the time. Surely, you’d no longer be a customer of that establishment.


    According to the 2015 Sprout Social Index report, brands are failing to respond to seven out of eight social messages online within 72 hours. A lot can happen in 72 hours’ time, most likely including the business’ loss of that customer’s attention.


    What’s worse is that the general population is increasing their use of social messages as a means to contact businesses. According to Sprout Social, the number of social messages sent to brands globally increased 21 percent in the first two quarters of 2015. Their research also indicates that while brands are ignoring these social messages, they continue to post new content at alarming rates, further reinforcing to the customer that they’re being ignored.


    Some industries are performing well while others are particularly struggling in this arena. The industry with the quickest response time is education, and the industry with the slowest response time is consumer goods and services. The report also highlights other challenged industries, including the real estate industry, which publishes 11.7 times more posts than replies.


    Making your brand accessible to prospective customers online is a must. If a customer leverages that accessibility and is greeted with silence in reply, you can expect to lose business.


    Read on to learn about new Facebook features that make it easier to respond to messages and how you can leverage these tools to increase your social ROI.


    Problem-Solving Features From Facebook

    Earlier this year, Facebook provided new features to businesses to help combat the problem of unresponsive Pages and make it easier to communicate with customers who need a reply. Here’s a summary of the new features:



    • Users can now send private messages to a Page via a local awareness ad.
    • Pages can now reply to a user’s comment or post via a private message. (Previously, Pages could only reply in the same way that the user reached out.) This feature helps Pages address sensitive requests promptly and privately.
    • Pages can earn a public badge when they are “very responsive to messages.” (More details on this feature below.)
    • Pages can now create and save commonly used responses to messages (Think: canned responses), helping them reply to incoming messages faster.
    • Pages now have more features to manage their inbox, including bulk updates: archive, delete, flag, mark messages as read, unread and spam.

    Below, I expand on two of my favorite features, including recommendations for putting these to work for your business.


    Saved Replies Feature

    Many website contact forms have features such as an “auto-reply” message to ensure your leads receive an email or other message confirming receipt of their form fill. This is considered a best practice in website lead generation, yet tools like this have been unavailable on social media until now.


    Recommendation: This feature is excellent and highly recommended for any business that receives a lot of messages, especially if they are repeat questions. To set up Saved Replies, click on Messages at the top of your Page and then choose any message in your inbox. You’ll notice the Saved Replies box to the left, where you can create and save replies to use again in the future.


    Live Screenshot of Facebook's Saved Replies Feature

    You can access the Saved Replies feature by going to your Page’s inbox and selecting any message.


    “Very Responsive To Messages” Badge

    Pages can earn an icon that will appear below their cover photo indicating they are “very responsive to messages” when an admin has:



    • allowed people to contact the Page by adjusting settings to show the Message button.
    • responded to 90 percent of messages over the last seven days.
    • maintained a five-minute median response time for all replies sent.

    Screenshot of Admin View - Very Responsive to Messages Feature on Facebook

    Visible only to Admins, instructions for getting the response rate and “Very Responsive To Messages” badge are visible on the Page Timeline.


    According to Facebook Help, this icon will only be publicly visible on your page when your Page is being “very responsive” to messages. Presumably, it will disappear from public view when your page is not “very responsive” but will be available to admins of the page under the cover photo.


    Recommendation: A median response time of five minutes is pretty aggressive for a busy small business, in my opinion. I’d recommend only making your Page available to receive messages when your staff is equipped to respond promptly.


    Do you plan to leverage these new Facebook features to improve your business’s messaging response time? Tell us about your experience.



    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.








    (Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

     


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