Terms, Shmerms! Facebook Usage Policy: Why Businesses Can’t afford to be distracted by it

Understandably, there has been much controversy in recent months about Facebook’s misguided attempt to modify its terms of service so as to retain licensing rights for terminated accounts. It is important to consider the ownership of customer data.

Many businesses that have an active presence on Facebook are afraid of a consumer backlash and are unsure what to do. Should they keep their pages on Facebook, or should they move to somewhere safer?

Short answer: Right now, focus on connecting with customers wherever they may be (and yes, they are absolutely still on Facebook in droves).

The truth is that the basic principles of marketing on social networking websites have not changed. Companies that recognize the one-to-one relationship-building capabilities that Facebook provides will still find lucrative opportunities to successfully build trust by offering valuable content and incentives.

It is still important for businesses to keep profiles up-to-date and invest in social networking, no matter how much the terms of service change.

Before you get caught up in this current flurry, keep these rules in mind when marketing via social media:

Be Real: It’s still true that people buy from those they like and know. Make sure that the corporate image on Facebook matches your true corporate culture. Do not be afraid to display your human side. It can help you gain more fans.

Be relevant. Your updates and offerings should reflect what you want and need from your fans and friends. You will lose credibility with stakeholders if you re-post press releases or ad copies.

Listen as much, if not more, than you speak. Customers are eager to share their opinions and desires. Just be there to listen. Facebook and other social media sites offer a level of accessibility that anonymous surveys and focus group discussions cannot match.

Respond to feedback: As soon as you receive feedback, you should take action. You’ll find that customers expect you to respond to their questions and suggestions. They’ll still want to hear that you listened and considered their advice, even if your answer is “no.” You’ll soon find yourself “friendless.”

Facebook’s Terms of Service will never come between a company, its customers, or clients in a social media environment as long as the organization has established and maintained a personal relationship.

Imagine this: Even if a strip mall manager is a jerk, a retail store will still have customers because they feel a personal connection with the owner and the sales clerks. The same is true on Facebook and social media sites. Businesses that focus on their clients will be successful regardless of changes to site policies.

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