We believe in the power of video, we believe in the reach of Facebook – and so does Mark Zuckerberg; he is standing onstage, wide-eyed and earnest, delivering an inspirational keynote to F8, the developers conference. “Instead of building walls, we can help people build bridges”. He’s announcing some amazing advances in how Facebook connects people – to each other and to business.
Let’s start with “Live”; this is streaming video; from your place, through your phone and right onto Facebook for all the world to savor. This matters to us because it suddenly makes our video real – and real easy. No more overthinking what to “do” in a video, with Live it’s press and go: with a simple click you are online, in an interactive format, connecting with people. Your people, customers and prospects. You’re not monologuing, you’re dialoguing – ask a question and your viewers chat back to you, suddenly it’s a conversation.
Live allows you to connect without ‘marketing’, to talk without ‘messaging’ – this is you (or your awesome staff) discussing a topic or idea, immediately responding to feedback and questions and continuing along with that train of thought. No over planning, no right or wrong, no good or bad (because it’s new and loose, people have no expectations). Live is freedom: freedom to do a quick chat, to give a quick tour, to offer instruction or share some new ideas.
Instant video, made easy and accessible. This is evolution the Facebook way; take a cool idea, run with it, put it on their platform and add the billion users. In this case, the Meerkat app introduced live streaming video to the masses, the Periscope app kicked it up a level and now, Facebook is making it easier and more effective.
“We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend” says Zuckerberg, turning our attention to to what may turn out to be the biggest leap forward in customer service since the words “Thank You”;
Messenger for Business. Chat or Messaging has now overtaken text messaging, or SMS, by about three to one; 60 BILLION messages a day on WhatsApp and Messenger vs 30 billion texts.
With Messenger, we are about to get one giant step closer to our customers because they can (as this rolls out completely) now simply type your business name into the chat box just like they would one of their friends.
Messenger gives customers easy access to you – a quick chat question is waaayyy more convenient than calling or emailing or searching for your FAQ’s. “Hi – I like the new cool thing in your ad – does it come in blue?” — bloop, the chat box opens — “Sure”, you answer, “it comes in three colors – blue, yellow and red. Here’s a photo. I can hold one for you at the counter, or here’s a direct link to order (special free-shipping order page for our Facebook Fans)”
“Wow” comes the answer “I like the red and blue – I’ll stop in today, yes, please hold them for me :)”
Two minutes. Two sales. Nice. Oh – and your newly well-cared for customer is right there on Facebook where she can instantly share her experience with her friends – basically doing a little marketing for you.
Messenger is just getting rolling – FB has also introduced ChatBots – a way to automate or auto-assist customer service messaging. ChatBots are still very much in the beta stage and as small business owners and entrepreneurs, automation isn’t critical – because we actually talk to our customers!
Facebook has plans to monetize Messenger for Business by allowing us to message to people who have already initiated contact with us – we are headed for a world where we can chat as easily and quickly with a customer as a friend, where we can give better customer care in less time and turn those interactions into transactions.
We believe these two features are huge advances that will be of enormous value to small businesses in particular as we all continue to prosper and grow. Go play with it and get started – you can never lose when you are talking to customers – especially on their terms, and sending a Message from their phone, through Facebook is very much on their terms. The questions they ask? The items they are interested in? That may very well inform the topic of your next Live video stream; “Many of our customers noticed this new thing we sell and had questions, let me answer them for you”.
Stay tuned – I’ll continue to walk you through this every step of the way, it’s big and getting bigger – together we will make it easy.