You’ve spent time and effort attracting fans to your Facebook Pages and engaging with them as a group. But when it comes to connecting with them beyond status updates, what are your options? Here are four frequently asked questions and some tips for creating alternate channels for conversation.
1. How can Facebook page owners interact with fans? As of Sept. 30, page admins can no longer send fans Updates. Updates, often overlooked by recipients, appeared in users’ Facebook Messages. Often these were bundled into an “Other” folder within the Facebook Messages inbox. Now, the primary ways to send content to all your fans are posts, which show up in the News Feed, and through Sponsored Stories and Facebook ads, which can be targeted to existing fans.
2. How can I connect with individual fans of my Facebook page? In some cases, admins might want to contact individual fans of their page, whether it’s to address a question or complaint, to connect with potential brand ambassadors, say thanks, etc. Other than a public comment on a fan’s post on your page’s wall, there aren’t too many options here. Access to both fans’ profiles and admins’ personal profiles are as private as each individual makes them. Both will be able to see public posts and other information they’ve set as publicly viewable. But if a fan does have his or her email or other information visible, pages still “may not use any users’ contact or personal info from the site without their permission,” according to Facebook. Brands must have explicit permission to contact those who like their page using this information.
If you’d like to send a private message to a fan, it is possible, but the message will come from the individual admin’s account, and not the page itself.
3. As a page admin, can fans contact us? If you’ve set your page to show “Page Owners,” the public will know you’re an admin and the page will be featured on your personal profile. There’s no way for a fan to send a page a private message. Fans are only able to contact you individually if your Facebook profile privacy settings allow it. (With Facebook’s new Subscribe feature, though, they can follow your public posts if you’ve enabled this feature.)
4. What about platforms that use the Facebook API? Some Facebook management platforms, such as Shoutlet, can pull in certain information about fans, but are limited to very basic info such as first name, last name, and gender. These are also limited by each fan’s personal privacy settings. These are different from individual apps that ask for explicit permission from users to access information such as friend lists, birthdays, etc.
Other ways to reach out to fans online:
Relationship-building with customers in social media can extend beyond Facebook. When you’d like to reach out to fans who’ve interacted with your brand on Facebook, there are other ways to reach out to them:
- Integrate email and social through forms on Facebook. Gathering email addresses on Facebook gives your fans an opportunity to opt-in to updates from you via email. Whether it’s a general email newsletter or email updates about a particular topic, asking for emails gives you another path to connecting with customers online. Shoutlet sign-up web apps are a great way to include forms on tabs and in the News Feed.
- Give them your email address. One-on-one email conversations can be an appropriate avenue for discussing certain customer services issues or when sensitive information is involved. Provide an email address to prevent asking users to post their own. Consider creating a special email address for your team to use for this purpose.
- Include fields for Twitter usernames in forms. Adding optional fields in the forms you add to your Facebook Page that collect Twitter usernames. This allows your brand to connect with users on Twitter, where one-to-one communication from a brand’s account is more flexible.