Using Facebook to Promote Your Organizing Business
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Last week I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with social media business coach Mari Smith, as part of Social Media Success Summit 2010 (SMSS10). The timing was perfect, as it allowed me to learn about some of the latest developments on Facebook, and to include a few of Mari’s tips in my presentation to the Halton-Peel Chapter of POC last night. Here are the highlights of my talk.
Facebook is the #1 social network and the 2nd most popular website in the world, after Google. According to a study conducted in 2009, more than 50% of Canadians under age 45 and 30% of Canadians between 45 and 54 are on Facebook. The number of users has increased since then, and continues to grow on a daily basis. Mari referred to a study by eMarketer which revealed that 68% of US Facebook users are “more likely to buy on a positive Facebook friend referral.” Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly important to consider Facebook as one of your marketing strategies.
There are basically three ways that you can have a presence on Facebook: personal profiles, business pages, and groups. Since you have to have a personal profile to participate on Facebook, we’ll start there.
One of the things that many people worry about is using their personal profile for business, but you can maximize your networking potential without sacrificing your privacy through the use of two features.
The first step is to create a Friends List for your personal friends and family members. To do this, click on Friends on the left side of your home page. At the top of the page you’ll see a button that says Create a List. Type in a name for this list and select the people who should be included in the list. When you’re done, click on the Create List button at the bottom. People can be added to and removed from that list whenever you like.
Next, go to your Privacy Settings. You’ll find this under Account at the top right hand side of your screen. Now, you’ll see a list of the various types of information on your profile. This is where you control who can see your Bio, Birthday, Interested In and Looking For statuses, Religious and Political Views, Photo Albums, Posts by You, Posts by Friends, as well as who can write on your Wall or comment on your Posts. Beside each one is a button with a picture of a lock on it. This is a dropdown menu. Click on it and choose Customize. Under Make Visible to… choose Specific People, then type in the name of the list you created in the previous step. This will prevent that type of information from being seen by anyone other than the people you’ve assigned to that group.
It is a little bit of work to set up, but it’s more effective than trying to manage multiple profiles (which is actually contrary to Facebook’s Terms of Service) or figuring out how to handle it when you receive a friend request from a someone that you’d like to have in your network, but you don’t necessarily want that person to see photos of your family vacation.
Using your profile is a great way to keep your name in front of people you’ve met but aren’t in regular contact with, whether it’s past clients, prospective clients who haven’t yet taken the step of doing business with you, people you’ve met at networking events, or others.
In addition to your personal profile, you can take things up a notch by setting up a page for your business. There is value in opening up your personal profile to business contacts, but there are even more advantages to having a business page:
- You are limited to 5000 friends, but you can have unlimited fans
- You can send an update to all your fans but you can only send a message to 20 friends at one time
- Pages are fully indexed by Google
- Pages can be viewed by people who are not logged into Facebook
- Pages can be customized to incorporate a special landing page, a sign-up box for your ezine
To set up your page, click on the Advertising link at the bottom of your screen, then click on Pages. There you’ll find some information about creating and using your page as well as a Create a Page button.
When you create a Facebook page, there are a few things that you will not be able to change later, so these should be chosen carefully. This includes:
- The name of your page
- The category – you should choose Brand, product, or organization rather than local business – this is more for bricks and mortar businesses who need to list location, hours of operation, parking, etc.
- The primary administrator – you can have multiple administrators but the person who creates the page can never be removed as an admin, so it’s probably best to do it through your own Facebook account, even if a VA or someone else is going to work on the page for you, because you’ll never be able to take away their admin privileges
Once the page is set up, you can start adding content and applications to make it interesting for people so they will want to become fans. Once they are fans, things you add to your page will come up in their news feed.
If you have a blog, you can use the Networked Blogs application to automatically import your new posts to both your personal profile and your business page. This will put a link to your posts in your friends’ and fans’ news feeds. It’s a great way to add fresh content without having to log into your account. However, you should log in at least once a week to respond to comments, deal with friend requests, and comment on other people’s posts. It is social networking after all, and not your own personal ad space. Stay away from the games and you shouldn’t have to worry about it taking up too much of your time!
Other popular applications include Videos, Discussions, and Reviews. There’s even an application that will allow you to create customized pages, such as a Welcome Page, a newsletter sign-up box; really, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Because groups have been available longer than business pages, some people set up groups for their business as a way to communicate with their clients and others who might be interested in their area of expertise. Many of these businesses have now switched over to pages, because they are much more limited in what they can do.
- Groups are not indexed on Google
- Groups cannot be customized
- Group activities don’t come up on people’s news feeds, so they tend to go unnoticed
- Although groups can have unlimited members, once they exceed 5000, you can no longer send out blanket messages
Once you have your business page up and running, you should promote it on your website, your blog, your ezine, and anywhere else that makes sense, and of course you’ll want to link your page back to your website and your blog. An integrated approach to online marketing will be most effective in helping you to achieve your goals.
To learn more read Mari Smith’s new book, Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.