Facebook for Business
Facebook is a social networking site that allows users to connect with friends, family and co-workers in an online environment. Launched in 2004 for the original purpose of allowing university students to connect and share photos, Facebook has since exploded in popularity with more than 600 million active users (as of January 2011). Using Facebook is simple: users start by creating a personal profile and then search for and add other users as friends. The site allows users to exchange messages, receive notifications of profile updates, upload and share photos, organise events and more.
How to Use Facebook for Business
From a business standpoint, Facebook is more frequently being used as a marketing channel due to its advertising and segmenting capabilities. You can use Facebook for a number of purposes, such as:
- Protect your brand -The reality is anyone can create a Facebook page about your company. If you don’t have a presence on Facebook, then you leave the control up to your customers or even your competitors to “create” your Facebook presence for you.
- Engage your customers -Rather than waiting for customers to come to your website to find out what’s new with your organisation, why not connect with them where they hang out? Facebook is a great way to communicate promotions, contests and events.
- Optimise your online presence -If search engine optimisation is important to your business, then you have another reason to use Facebook. Facebook is considered a credible source, is frequently updated and has millions of pages and links contributing to its high rankings in the search engines.
- Generate leads -Facebook can also be used as a potential lead generation tool and help qualify your leads. You could view the profiles of your potential prospects to learn more about them. This will help you build a relationship with them and assist in the lead generation qualifying process.
- Develop customer loyalty -Through ongoing communication and regular interaction with your Facebook fans, you will better retain your customers, increase referrals and enhance overall loyalty.
Now that we’ve outlined the various objectives marketers have for using Facebook, let’s discuss the specific strategies that your company can implement in your Facebook marketing plan.
Set up a Facebook Profile
The first place to start is to create a Facebook profile page. This is basically a landing page where visitors can choose to engage with various elements of your brand. Your profile page is where you can craft a real-world story around your brand and display what makes your products / services so valuable. Take advantage of all the content headings available: Personal Info, Work Info and Photos. But be sure to keep the language Facebook-appropriate. In other words, speak to your Facebook audience and avoid unnecessary jargon.
On Facebook, profiles are meant for people and pages are meant for businesses. However, you are going to need to create a company profile in order to create a company Fan Page. The Fan Page is where you will want to concentrate your efforts.
Create a Facebook Company Page
After you launch your Facebook profile, it’s time to create a company page. Launched in 2007, pages were created as a way for businesses to easily establish a presence on Facebook. Similar to Facebook Groups, pages allow you to build a community online. However, unlike groups, you have more ability to customize the experience fans have with your brand through a page. For example, you can add HTML, Flash and applications to your page, allowing you to create a unique, interactive experience for your fans. In addition, a page will get more prominent real estate on your profile page than groups.
After creating a page, you can encourage users to become fans of your page and share information with them in the form of status updates, pictures and videos. Everyone on the Internet can view a Facebook page, making it a good option for building long-term relationships with your customers.
All Facebook users are aware of the “Like” and “Share” buttons on Facebook. These features are very powerful when it comes to viral marketing. Anytime you post anything on your page, whether it is a video, photo, promotion, etc., your fans can easily indicate if they “like” what you’ve posted and “share” it with their friends
Advertising on Facebook
Companies already advertising online through paid search marketing (ie: Google AdWords) understand that they can target their audience by search terms (exact, broad, phrase) and by region and radius. Facebook allows advertisers to take their targeting a step further.
Through Facebook’s powerful advertising platform, businesses can target beyond search terms to a specific demographic and place a small display ad in the right sidebar of Facebook pages and profiles associated with that demographic. There are a number of variables you could target, including geography, age, gender, education, relationship status, workplace, political views and keywords.
Though the click through rate of a Facebook ad is lower than a Google AdWords campaign, the cost is also lower. Advertisers have the option of paying on a CPC or CPM basis. If you’re looking to broaden your advertising spend, Facebook advertising is a channel worth exploring.
If your company is hosting an event, webinar, product launch, etc., you can easily invite people to your event through Facebook. By creating a Facebook Event, you can send an invitation directly to your fans with a couple of clicks. Once you launch a Facebook event, it will have a fully-featured page of its own with a wall, photos, videos and links. You can also choose to make your event “public” or “private” and select who you want to be able to see your event. Additionally, you can communicate directly with those who have confirmed their attendance, declined or have not yet responded.
From a viral standpoint, whenever a Facebook user confirms that they are attending an event, a notification gets posted on their wall informing their friends that they are attending your event. This will further spread the news of your event across Facebook users.
Marketers have started using Facebook Places, a location-based feature that allows Facebook users to share their real-time locations with the world. Users can check in to a particular location on Facebook Places, which then gets broadcasted out to their contacts. This allows companies to conduct location-specific marketing through Facebook. For example, you can offer a discount to those who check in to your physical location and share with their friends that they’ve visited your business.
Promote Your Facebook Presence
Once you launch your Facebook profile and fan page, it’s time to get the word out. Rather than waiting and hoping for people to search for your company name on Facebook, you can actively promote your Facebook page to your customers using the following tactics:
- Send an email to your database -This is the most direct way to promote your Facebook presence.
- Add a button to your website -Make sure your “Become a Fan” button is in a visible location.
- Add a button to your email signature -Promote your page every time you send an email.
- Run a contest to grow your fan base -Give your customers an incentive to become your fan.
- Add a link to your business cards -A simple link to your business card can help promote the page.
Facebook Best Practices Checklist
Keep your page fresh and lively. Don’t make the mistake of creating a page and then neglecting it. Be sure to update your page regularly with fresh, relevant content that your fans would find interesting. As discussed, Facebook has a viral nature. So the more interesting your content, the more likely fans will share your information with others.
Make your page publicly searchable. By default, your page will be public, so it can get indexed by search engines and give you the opportunity to drive organic search traffic to your page. If you don’t notice your page showing up in searches, make sure your page is set to “public”.
Use a big, eye-catching profile picture. This is an effective way to brand your Facebook page. When you use a visually appealing, company-appropriate image to represent your brand, you will stand out from the crowd. Try to use an image that best represents your company and industry.
Take advantage of the polls. Facebook Polls are great for companies looking to get a quick answer from their fans.You could run an industry poll to see what industries your fans belong to you; this way you can communicate to their specific vertical. Or you can run a product/service poll to see what your fans have used and what they are looking to use.
Connect your page with other social sites. Integrate Facebook applications that will pull content from sites like YouTube, Twitter and Flickr, and add that content to your page automatically.
Participate in other pages. Look for other Facebook pages related to your industry and actively comment on their posts, updates and photos. When contributing to someone else’s page, be sure to bring value because this is your opportunity to add credibility to your business as well as build relationships in your industry.
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Facebook Tools and Resources
- The Facebook Blog: Find out what’s happening behind the scenes of Facebook by reading posts from Facebook employees first hand –http://on.fb.me/dOYvRa
- Inside Facebook: This blog is dedicated to providing information on how to market on Facebook-http://bit.ly/aa80mg
- All Facebook: This is known as the unofficial Facebook resource and contains information and tools related to using and marketing on Facebook-http://bit.ly/f1I9NS
- HubSpotPage: See some of the ways to create an engaging page, and also become a fan to get updates about future resources.
- Mashable: Compiled a list of 30+ apps for doing business on Facebook-http://bit.ly/aP0f6H
- Add-ons: Firefox Add-ons for Facebook-http://bit.ly/9NpM0l
- Lexicon:This Facebook tool allows to you to find out what people are saying on Facebook and understands the trends that are happening so you can tailor your information and communications to these topics where applicable –http://bit.ly/d6dLVp
- Photobucket: Now you can log into this photo sharing website using your Facebook account and share pictures between the sites. This is an easy alternative to the Facebook uploader and allows you to share pictures in a larger variety of places –http://bit.ly/fMT4Fj
- Flickr2Facebook: This is an unofficial transfer application. In just a few simple steps, you can quickly share pictures from your Flickr account onto your Facebook page – http://bit.ly/h4kQrE
- Facemoods: This emoticon application recently announced the ability to take Facebook chat outside of the site using a simple button –http://on.fb.me/f1eJyK
- TheFriendMail: This tool allows you to run your Facebook page or profile through email. You can send out updates, links and even read your news feed through this service –http://bit.ly/h8HqpS
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