With Father’s Day on Sunday, I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad who died 23 years ago. In particular, I found myself thinking about his business, Community Service Station. His father had named the business “Community” and for decades it proved to be an extension of their friendships and involvement in our township.
While helping businesses and organizations through my newly-founded company, Online and In Person, LLC, I often talk about creating an online community to mirror the real life community of a business or organization. I emphasize that today’s social media marketing centers on community. To me, these aren’t idle words. Over the weekend I found myself comparing real life examples from my father’s business to interactions on Facebook pages.
1. People want to feel connected.
Community Service Station was a business but it was also a social hangout. Even the minister would spend time there (much to my grandmother’s chagrin). Most of us fill up the tank once a week or so. We are regulars at the gas station. My father’s customers would park and spend time sitting or standing around the office. Everyone knew each other and friendships developed.
Facebook creates a social space in much the same way where people can gather even when they aren’t doing business or supporting an organization. With Facebook they can check in to a place page (and eventually will be able to use the new Deal feature when it is offered). A Facebook page creates a place for a community to develop. Rockville Central, which I co-manage, is an excellent example of a Facebook community which means quite a lot to us.
2. People have a need to communicate with each other.
When people hung out at my father’s service station, they inevitably discussed every news story and local happening. When I met his regulars, they always knew what I was doing too.
On Facebook people comment or answer questions in much the same way. Even though they might not be friends on Facebook, they get to know each other and respond to each other. You can always stop by and comment and discuss a topic of interest while seeing who else is talking about a certain subject. People want to know what’s going on and share their opinions both in real life and on Facebook.
3. People want information
My dad obviously shared all sorts of information and answered many questions. Most of all he gave directions to people who were lost. These were not customers. Since he was situated off a ramp from the Lincoln Tunnel, these requests were never-ending and demanded a great amount of his time.
You share when using the social networks. On Facebook, businesses and organizations provide links, posts, and explanations to demonstrate their expertise without an expectation of compensation.
4. Businesses shouldn’t be afraid of humor
Take a look at the picture for this post. A newspaper article was taped onto my father’s desk “Boss George Goes Batty”. He loved to fool around and play practical jokes. He taught me that if I wanted to dish it out, I had to take it. Customers stopped in for a good laugh daily and he would play along. Community Service Station was a lively place for many men in my hometown.
On Facebook, you often post funny pictures, jokes, and amusing articles. These light-hearted links are a good break from your work or boredom. Sharing funny instances is one of the main uses of Facebook. Successful business owners and organizations show their lighter sides. Their pages run fun content and creative photos with a personal touch.
5. People like to volunteer and help.
My dad’s business was a work-study site for our high school. He hired young men and successfully trained them to be able to hold a job. Many of these boys didn’t even know how to look someone in the eye or shake hands. My father stepped up and dedicated the time. He always offered his property for car washes for local groups too. Signs and fliers were everywhere.
Businesses often “give back” to the community. After organizing service projects, Facebook brings people together to volunteer. Posts and events provide ways for customers to invite other like-minded friends to join them and increase the good in the world. Facebook is the modern day version of a flier on a telephone pole.
When I advise businesses and organizations on using social networks, I have my dad’s terrific example in my mind along with a good understanding of the importance of community. This background is combined with the technical know-how of successfully administering a Facebook page. To me, they fit together quite naturally. I help others feel the same.