How “Have- to” Businesses Can Engage Facebook Fans [Guest Article]

Editor’s Note [N. Rosener]: I have been a long-time fan of the Victory Auto Service’s Facebook page. In a world of boring company Facebook pages, theirs stands out because they understand how to actually talk to their customers. I asked Stephanie Gutierrez (the mastermind behind the page) to share her advice on how she brings her unique voice and tone to the page to represent the company brand. Here’s what she had to say:

What could possibly make people want to connect with an auto repair shop on Facebook? I mean, car repair is only so interesting. I only think about car stuff when I HAVE to. In fact, I think about car repairs the way I think about my dentist – put it off as long possible! Why would I want to read about it on Facebook?!

Victory Auto Service Logo

Exactly. Let’s be realistic that this is how a lot of people think about vehicle maintenance and repair. We’re a “have-to” business.

What do I mean by that? Well, there are “want-to” businesses, like restaurants, clothing boutiques, techie gadget stores – places where people buy luxury items that they don’t necessarily need, but they want. Then, there are “have-to” businesses like the dentist, the doctor, and …the auto repair shop. You don’t usually save up to buy something fun at a “have-to” store. You pay for something you know you need.

There are the “want-to” and “have-to” companies on Facebook, too. Many of the “want-to’s,” people love to engage with – recipe pages, coffee houses, eco-friendly stores…and then there’s us. Yet the Victory Auto Service & Glass Facebook page has more than 700 fans and an engaged base that interacts regularly with our posts.

How is this possible?

Let me share a few of things we’ve done, and you can do, to make our “have-to” business fun and engaging.

1. Be realistic.

For us to think that we are going to hit 30,000 fans is not reasonable. When you set goals that are way too high or unrealistic, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You can still set high goals, but make them realistic. Look at how other businesses similar to yours are performing on Facebook and then set a goal to do better than the best one you can find.

2. Figure out who your fans and potential fans are.

Ask yourself: Who do we think will read our page? Who do we want to interact with our page? What could we do to get those people to interact with our page? If I didn’t work here, would I interact with my page?

For me, when I began Victory Auto’s page, I knew the answer to that last question was no, because I’m not really that into cars. So, I began to look for a way to make our page connect with non-car people, like me.

3. Speak their language.

Here’s the basis of my philosophy on connecting with our fans: Connect with them on their level. How does that play out on our page?

We fix and maintain cars. Fans drive cars. If we talk only about what we do, I knew we’d bore them to tears and they’d never come back. But when you think about it, people talk about their cars all the time, whether they realize it or not.

 

“The traffic was awful today!”

“We’re taking the kids on a road trip to see my parents this weekend.”

“My car is making this really weird sound, and it’s making me nervous.”

“I’m buying a car, and it’s important to me that it has good safety ratings.”

“Can you believe how much the gas prices went up over the last few days?”

 

See what I mean? So, on the Victory Auto Facebook page, we try and see how we can make THOSE conversations a part of our conversations. We also try and let fans get to know us, as people, and not just a business, by letting them into our lives through pictures, videos and the day-to-day fun things that happen in the shop. And we do this all in a conversational style or voice.

 

We hope that when people need a repair or some maintenance done, our name is the first that will pop in their head, because of having been exposed to us through our fun, engaging and helpful posts. We want to create a connection in their minds through social media. Vehicles = Victory Auto.

 

So ask yourself, what does your business have in common with your customers? How can you create a connection in their minds that links you to what they need? If you drew a diagram, what would be the conversations or themes that would connect your customers to you?

Driving the Conversation

You know that great feeling when your brakes have been squealing, and then you get your car back from the shop after they’ve fixed them, and then you drive away and stop at a stop sign and …Ahhh… you stop, smooth as butter, quiet as a mouse? Yep, a “have-to” business has its moments, too. What are yours?

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About Stephanie Gutierrez

Stephanie Gutierrez manages the marketing and social media at Victory Auto Service & Glass, an award-winning auto repair business that has four locations in the Twin Cities. You can find Stephanie on Twitter at @slgutierrez or tweeting for Victory Auto at @victoryautoserv.

4 Comments

  1. Annie

    "So ask yourself, what does your business have in common with your customers? How can you create a connection in their minds that links you to what they need? If you drew a diagram, what would be the conversations or themes that would connect your customers to you?"

    Thanks, great article, I'm off to the stationary cupboard now to draw a diagram for our office, lot's of colored pens needed for this job :)
    Thanks for the tip!

  2. Samantha Bangayan

    Wow! This is a stellar post! I'm working on building a fan page from scratch and this is exactly what I needed to read, Stephanie! Thanks so much for your thorough tips. Your first point about setting realistic goals is going to make all the difference, so I don't feel overwhelmed, and I especially appreciate the last point about speaking the language. I can definitely think of ways my readers can relate to my theme.

    I'm totally impressed by the interaction already on your page! I noticed that you held a successful contest recently, asking your fans to post text on their profiles. Did you have to get permission from Facebook for something like that? We're going to be holding a contest soon and are trying to figure out the logistics now that it seems we need use third-party apps under the new FB rules. Thoughts?

    Thanks so much for hosting this guest post, Nick! =)

    1. Nick Rosener

      I'll let Stephanie answer this too, but I have had clients run contests that were very greatful that they used a third-party app to do it.

      One that I would recommend is Wildfire, it's pretty cheap for the lowest plan (which was adequate for our needs), and it has lots of dynamic functionality.

      Stephanie, your thoughts?

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