It’s been awhile since Facebook has made an update specifically for businesses and organizations that I’ve been this excited about.
Let me explain why.
The feature is called Instant Replies. It works like this: as a Page admin, you can turn this feature on and create a message that is automatically delivered to your followers when they message your Page.
There are a couple of options you can play with — plus some fun customizable settings that I’ll touch on in a sec.
But first: Why am I geeking out over this?
I’m thrilled because this feature allows us to be even more responsive to our customers. It gives us a new opportunity to make sure they know we’re paying attention to them. That we care about them. And that we consider their messages important. It takes customer service on Facebook to a whole new level.
As libraries, our social media platforms should be extensions of our library service. Let’s continue to go where our customers are. Let them know they can reach us in our branches, over the phone, via our website, and via our social media platforms.
This means we need to make sure we’re “listening” on social media. When a customer sends us a question, we need to acknowledge them and get them an answer in a timely manner. Not just because it’s the right thing to do — but because Facebook is paying attention. It’s tracking how quickly you’re helping your customers and displaying that information. Fellow library marketing blogger Angela Hursh wrote about the response rate when it was first debuted by Facebook last summer. And now there are more options when it comes to showing off that info. Check it out:
This can be found in your message settings. That’s also where the new Instant Replies settings live. When you’re ready to set up your Instant Replies, you’ll need to first go into your message settings and turn them on. The next step is actually writing the message that will automatically greet your customers when they message you. The message can be no more than 250 characters. Facebook makes it easy:
Facebook has finally realized businesses and organizations don’t always have the luxury of monitoring messages 24/7. This gives you an opportunity to create the first layer of customer service that your followers will encounter when contacting you via Facebook. Your message can say whatever you’d like it to say. Here’s one example:
“Hi. Thanks for contacting us. Our Facebook page is staffed Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. We’ll get back to you ASAP. If you’re contacting us outside of these hours, we encourage you to find many helpful resources via our website.” (228 characters.)
(By clicking “Add Personalization” in your message, you can insert text fields that will tailor the message to the customer such as automatically adding their name, or creating an easy link to your website.)
Turning on Instant Replies will let your customers know their messages have been received — and when they can expect further assistance. You can even take all of this a step further and create another message for when your library is closed. Facebook calls that an Away Message. The settings are similar to the Instant Replies:
However, in order to create an Away Message, you’ll need to officially list your library’s operating hours in the Facebook Page settings. (For some libraries, like mine, this isn’t an option because of multiple locations with various hours.) You can only choose hours for one location. For you, this may instinctively be your Main Library hours. But for customers, that could get confusing. At my library, our Page represents our system as whole, not just one location, so we decided to leave off the hours on our Facebook Page. Because of this, we can’t set up an Away Message at this time. But have no fear. We can still take advantage of the Instant Replies and include some of the info that we might otherwise include in an Away Message. (As in the example above.)
In addition to taking advantage of these new settings, you should have a system in place to make sure your customers’ questions get answered. If you don’t have a person dedicated to regularly monitoring social media, consider creating a team with shifts. If the person “listening” can’t answer the question, make sure they know who can and where to forward it so it gets answered.
Making your library’s Facebook Page a reliable source to get questions answered will help you maintain top-notch customer service and raise the profile of your library. Let’s make it as easy as possible for our customers to find what they’re looking for — no matter where they may seek us out.
I’d love for you to take my poll! Plus, tell me what you think of Facebook’s new Instant Replies and Away Messages in the comments section below.
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Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.