Yesterday I spoke at the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce to several small business owners about how to use Facebook for public relations in business. These businesses were in different stages of usage. Some of them have already been using Facebook and found success, some are in the stages of trying to make it successful, and some still need convinced that it is important. In the seminar we covered everything from how Facebook works as a piece of inbound marketing, to design, and messages being conveyed. The audience was very interactive, which was helpful to convince other small business owners of Facebook's impact. I want to share one of the best "testimonials" that was shared yesterday.
The story came from an organization in the medical transportation business. Their primary reason for being involved with Facebook is for public relations, as most times individuals don't have a choice of whether or not they are transported by this organization (as it only occurs in severe medical emergency). They new the importance of PR related to their business and took a proactive approach of being involved on Facebook before a PR crisis occurred. They started out sharing photos, stories and letters which helped grow their following quickly right off the bat...which is great!
Where Facebook really helped them was when a serious situation actually occurred involving one of their transportation vehicles. It was involved in an accident, however the vehicle itself was not in service (even before the accident). News started to spread quickly about the accident, which as you know things tend to start sounding worse than they are when rumors start swirling on social media. Luckily this organization was able to get in front of the rumors and explain the situation before it became too serious. So instead of people sharing the story via a news media site who may or may not report the situation accurately, over 150 people shared their post about the situation, so it was coming right from the source. While the situation itself wasn't positive, they were there able to ease the minds of the community quickly and earn trust quickly. In the process of getting their story shared, their Facebook likes grew significantly overnight. This is a textbook example of how Facebook can be used appropriately in a negative PR situation and have it end on a positive note?
If they had not taken a proactive approach to become involved on Facebook and they wanted to release their statement via the social network, they would not have already had a following to help share their story. It's likely the information would have come from a 3rd party source who may have put their own spin on it. Additionally the 3rd party source would have earned the additional Facebook likes that occurred as a result of the story being shared.
If your business is considering Facebook, don't wait because you think you don't have anything to post. Remember, Facebook is about building relationships. There is information that your prospects, customers, and community care about that will allow you to build relationships. You don't have to have a ton of marketing materials ready to post on Facebook because if you are building relationships, 90% of what you post should not be marketing. You never know when your Facebook following will help you tremendously, even if it is small.