I’ve been watching this new feature Facebook has rolling out called “Questions”. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s not a new idea. Yahoo has ‘Answers’ and is the most used of the Q&A sites but there are plenty more. It’s still in beta and is rolling out slowly so you may not be able to see it yet but I believe there’s a potential for some Facebook Page exposure and, possibly, for dealerships generating some business.
First, here’s an example of what a question would look like:
Now initially, you would think there wouldn’t be any payoff for trolling through questions posted by a service with a user base of 500 million people. I mean, how is answering someone’s question that lives 2000 miles from your dealership going to generate business for you?
There’s also a lot more involved than posting a status update or tweeting 140 characters. To answer most questions properly and intelligently (especially in the automotive business), it will require more than a little explanation. I mean, how easy is it to answer the question “How much is my trade worth”? That’s a complicated answer. (Unless you go old-school on them and ask them to back the car up to the phone so you can hear it.)
The features that make it potentially worthwhile to a dealership or business are these:
- If you are the administrator of your business’ fan page, you can choose whether to answer the question as yourself (ie. John Doe) or as your business (John Doe Ford). By answering as your business, your Facebook page is the official “responder” and, just as any post, will be linked back to your Facebook Page. This could lead people there to explore further.
- Facebook Questions will allow the people posing the questions to geo-target those questions. For example, a person in Ohio could seek answers from other people in Ohio and/or just want to identify where they are in case that has relevance to their question. If you’re a business who has decided to peruse Questions, you can not only search topics (ie. automotive) but you can also search geographically. Obviously if your business is in Ohio, and it’s a car dealership, you could look at automotive-related questions from people in Ohio. I’m not sure yet exactly how fine-tuned the geographical function will be (ie. can you choose to see questions from people down to the city level) but you could certainly see how answering automotive questions from people in Ohio which could then lead them back to your Fan Page and, possibly, your website or dealership, could be beneficial.
- We know that public information on Facebook is indexed by Google. We know that Fan Pages are. Seeing as Questions is public, I’m assuming the question (and your answer) would be indexed by Google. Facebook ranks well with search engines so it could get your business’ fan Page (and name) a little more (or a lot more depending on how active you are answering questions) exposure and SEO.
When I was in Internet Departments, I would target message boards seeking to answer people’s questions about my particular car brand. I answered them directly and never tried to sell them anything. People appreciate that and you could help yourself stand apart from your competitors.
Just as in Yahoo Answers, I’m guessing that people can search Questions previously posted (and answered) for similar questions that they may have. In this case, best case scenario is that they find a previous question posed by a Facebook member and answered by your business. If they are also geographically limiting their searches, you could have a local customer seeing your business being helpful and pro-active in answering people’s questions. This is certainly a form of reputation management that could assist you in gaining some brownie points with a potential customer.
This is certainly a method of gaining some exposure for your business. It’s not the easiest or least time-consuming but the advantage is does have is that not only do you get your name out but you associate positive images with it at the same time. Once this feature is rolled out to everyone, it will be interesting to experiment and see what happens.