March 28, 2011, 9:03 PM — Creating a Facebook page has become a standard practice among small businesses as a way to communicate and interact with customers and professional contacts. As a way to explore your customers' wants and needs even further, Facebook has expanded its Questions features, so that in addition to asking your Facebook friends questions, your friends' friends can respond as well. Facebook has also added other new features.
[ See also: Facebook wants your burning questions ]
"With the updated Questions you can agree with an existing answer with a single click, or you can add a different response. This makes it easy for many more people to respond to you. It also helps us show you the most popular responses," Adrian Graham, a Facebook product manager wrote on his blog.
"Questions will also enable you to cast a wider net. Now, when your friends answer one of your questions, their friends can answer it too. For more unusual questions, you can get advice from a broader group of people, but to keep it most relevant we filter the answers to show you first what your friends think."
While Facebook primarily targets the consumer sector with its applications, Questions has a lot to offer small businesses. For example, are you straddling the fence over two ways to change a product or service but can't make up your mind? Use Questions to ask your business' friends list or followers whose opinions, of course, you care about. Their friends' opinions are worth a lot as well since they very likely share similar wants and tastes with your businesses' network. The polling results that Questions offers can also help you quantify and analyze responses.
However, in the big picture sense, Questions is but one small example of the potential that crowdsourcing can offer. An immediate way to use crowdsourcing as a way to gain insight into customer needs and wants is to take polls on your business' own Website or blog.
Instead of boring your customers with a customer satisfaction survey, why not ask their input about really interesting and important questions? Using Facebook Questions to do that can't hurt, but you will not have the same degree of freedom to ask what you want and to interact in more creative ways by using Facebook's stodgy and limited interface. Get creative and think of interesting and exciting ways to solicit help with your business' own Website and e-mail list.
Some small businesses might fear that the use of crowdsourcing could be seen as a weakness, in that if you are an expert in a particular area, why do you need to ask for help from non-professionals?