Don’t Abuse Facebook Chat

I have such mixed feelings around Facebook Chat.  On the one hand, I love knowing who is online.  It makes me more effective in terms of sending out the right messages at the most effective times of the day.  On the other hand, it’s incredibly distracting to be in the middle of something and have the chat pop up with something completely irrelevant to my task at hand.

For example, the other day I had the chat open, and I got a message pop up that someone wanted me to vote for them for something.  (This same person had been begging for votes through a mass email a few days earlier, but that’s another post.)  That, in my opinion, is a completely irresponsible use of Facebook chat.

So if you plan to use Facebook Chat for your business, here are some etiquette rules that I suggest you keep in mind:

  1. Schedule your chat in advance.  That way, you know the person you want to chat with has time for it.
  2. If you can’t schedule it, ask if the person has time to chat before diving into whatever you want.  This is being considerate of others’ time.
  3. Make sure you have a personal relationship with the person you want to chat with.  Don’t reach out to random influencers, strangers, prospects, etc looking for free advice or to sell something.  It is never well received.
  4. Make sure your topic is relevant.  You should NEVER use chat to ask for votes, fans, etc.  If it’s something you would throw into a mass email, it does NOT belong in chat.  This is a place for personal conversations, period.

Now that said, chat CAN be valuable.  Here are some uses for chat that reflect well on your business.

  1. Coach your hostess through chat.  If she’s told you she’s open to hearing from you through chat (ask how she’d like to hear from you during your party planning session), reach out to her and see if she has questions, or share a bit of information that she needs to have a successful party.
  2. If a team member has an immediate question, reaching out through chat can be a good way to get her the information she needs right away, so she can be more productive.
  3. If a customer posts a question or customer service need, reaching out through chat immediately to take care of it can make that customer happy and cause them to buy from you again.

The real key here is to make sure that your use of Facebook chat never constitutes an interruption, and is service-oriented. ALWAYS ask if someone has time if you plan to use it, and stick to conversation that helps others.  Otherwise, use the inbox feature, so that people can respond on THEIR schedule, not yours.

Do you use Facebook chat?  How’s it working for you?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

6 Responses to Don’t Abuse Facebook Chat
  1. Shiloh Bousquet
    October 26, 2010 | 8:09 pm

    I don’t use the chat function anymore.

    Seems everytime I go on, to try and talk to a customer, every school chum wants to chat and I get 10 pop ups at once. I’d rather focus my attention to the one conversation I want to have, so instead I have been using the message/inbox function instead.

    So, I do disagree with Mark about ignoring them. I want my customers to feel they are imporant to me.. if i ignore them.. that is conveying the opposite. They know I am there!!!! And quite often, if you dont answer right away, then they say “are you there”, “helloooo”, etc.

  2. Robyn
    October 14, 2010 | 2:16 pm

    It’s like there are many pros and cons to the chat option. Like anything there are going to be people that abuse and take advantage of it. But I would agree with Mark that you don’t have to respond. If that makes you uncomfortable you can change your status to offline and only use it when you are free to chat.

  3. Stacey Watson
    October 14, 2010 | 2:03 pm

    I agree you with, Jennifer! I actually “un-friended” someone recently because every time I logged into Facebook and she was online, she would start chatting to me about her business opportunity. After several times of telling her I wasn’t interested, I had finally had enough.

    On the other hand, I love using the chat function with my team members. It is great for quickly touching base or answering any questions they might have.

  4. Mark Bosworth
    October 14, 2010 | 11:52 am

    I hate to be contrary, but I must disagree. (Insert smiley face)

    In my opinion, there is no obligation for the receiver of a chat to respond. It is just like a telephone call. If someone calls me and I don’t have time to answer then it goes to voice mail. Ditto with chat. Just don’t respond!

    So the beauty of any chat (facebook, google, MSN) is that you can see who is on-line and connect with them. I absolutely love it for quick factual questions. It is also nice for short “hello” conversations of a social nature. I love seeing my daughter on-line and giving her a quick hello.

    IMHO scheduling a chat defeats the purpose of the function. If I’m going to schedule something it will be a call, which for me is a much more efficient way of communicating than typing.

    I would be interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on whether it is rude to not answer an incoming chat.

    • Jennifer Fong
      October 14, 2010 | 12:30 pm

      *gasp* You’re disagreeing with me??? 🙂 (Hi Mark!)

      It’s interesting to see different opinions on this. Can’t wait to hear what others think. I know some folks are very offended when people don’t answer chats. I tend to agree with the direction you’re going in terms of not answering, but it will be interesting to see what others have to say.

      Thanks for jumping into the discussion!

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