Global Social Networking sensation Facebook has been used predominantly to date by individuals. And plenty of them. And what do you get wherever large numbers of eyeballs congregate? Answer, adverts. But that doesn’t automatically mean that Facebook is a great advertising platform for everybody. And it doesn’t mean that Facebook Ads are the only way to exploit Facebook for your business.
Facebook users can add friends, send them messages, update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves, play games and do lots more. Users can also join networks organised by interest, location, workplace, school, etc.
In much the same way that a power company connects homes and businesses with electricity, Facebook is a “social utility” designed to facilitate connections between people and businesses. Unsurprisingly therefore, it can be extremely useful as a business tool. This article addresses the many ways in which businesses can market themselves using Facebook.
Facebook Public Profile
A free Facebook Page is the ideal place for businesses to establish a beachhead within Facebook. It is, also, one of the most overlooked.
So build a Fan page. Facebook allows your brand to interact with fans through fan pages. These pages can be used by your business as a blog, a research tool or as a communication device to post messages, respond to issues and solve customer problems. Fan pages also provide your brand with the opportunity to stream live events, post videos and pictures, offer coupons, and run polls and competitions. If your brand is not doing any of these things, you are under-performing on Facebook.
Who Loves Ya Baby? Well, likes ya? Facebook has introduced a Like button that lets users share pages from a site to their Facebook profile with one click. Implement ‘Like’ buttons on key pages of your website. Doing this allows people to tag your website with a ‘Like’ which then shows up on their wall. This should be a priority for your brand, as it’s simple to apply and allows customers to promote your brand for you.
Facebook Login shows profile pictures of user’s friends who have signed up for your site. This tool will become increasingly popular, (especially with ecommerce websites) as more people login to Facebook through websites, and could be a powerful aid for your brand in spreading awareness and driving sales.
You can send regular updates to fans, and, unlike personal profiles, which are limited to 5,000 members, the number of fans you can have on a Public Profile is unlimited. In addition, you can set up a business page without having to provide a personal profile.
One of the best reasons to have a Facebook Public Profile is that it can be indexed by search engines. That is no small consideration, because Facebook is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the Internet.
Another useful Facebook feature, one that can be launched directly from your Facebook Public Profile, is Facebook Events. With it, you can let fans and others know about upcoming events and activities your business will be hosting.
A restaurant can use Facebook Events to promote appearances by musical acts. A B2B company can promote upcoming webinars or workshops. Nonprofit and civic groups can enlist support for fund-raising activities.
Remember, activities that Facebook members engage in are reported in the newsfeed, so word about the events can spread quickly and virally.
Facebook Groups allow you to create or participate in as many as 200 affinity- or geography-based groups. Each can serve as a viral channel for extending your presence within Facebook, and each can be used as “fishing pools” to help you find prospects and build relationships.
Before you set up your own group, however, participate in two or three groups to learn how they operate. As with Facebook Events, use Facebook Groups to supplement your business page, not act as a substitute for it.
Facebook Ads resemble Google AdSense ads in that they are primarily text based, but they do allow inclusion of a small graphic.
You can opt to include Social Actions, which are stories about a user’s friends that are related to and displayed alongside your advertisement. Whenever a user takes an action associated with the ad, that user’s avatar and screen name will appear along with the ad on the friend’s profile pages. That result implies endorsement, so use the component wisely.
In social media, people relate better to other people than to brands. We like to do business with people we know and trust.
An ideal scenario is to have a brand or company presence via the means outlined above, and to supplement and extend that business presence with a personal one.
Though your company can create a Facebook Public Profile or ad without creating a personal profile, there are many reasons to have a personal presence: to network with colleagues and peers, to find business contacts, to build business relationships, to grow your personal brand, to target your niche audience, to increase traffic to your website, to enhance your Google rankings, and so much more!
Having a personal profile is a way to extend that digital handshake and get to know people in a more casual, nurturing environment where you can make friends.
For many reasons, Facebook can be used effectively as a tool for business. Start by setting up both a personal profile and a Public Profile (Fan Page) to showcase your business.
Consider running some ads to drive attention to your Page. Although they may not result in loads of clicks, at least they are inexpensive. Judiciously and cautiously leverage your network of friends, encouraging them to become fans and to invite others. (In other words, don’t overload them with invitations.)
What benefits can be accrued? Quite a few: brand awareness, personal engagement with your customers and prospects, a network that allows fans to easily and quickly share your message, and inexpensive advertising to boot. What’s not to like?