Social Networking - Tapping into Facebook's 900 million users
In last week's blog post I recommend why and how to take advantage of three social networking services: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I also mentioned that I would write subsequent posts on each of these "Big Three" social networking sites and the video sharing network YouTube. While I can lead you to water, I can't make you drink. However, if you are thirsty to learn and improve your business, the first of these four posts is dedicated to getting you started with Facebook.
Facebook offers tremendous opportunities for businesses to network with customers, Facebook is the great leveller, as it offers the same benefit to a "Fortune 500" megacorp or a "mom & pop" store; that is each may participate in this FREE marketing vehicle, if they are prepared to put in the effort to create a business page. But I think that small businesses (SMB's) can especially benefit from creating a Facebook page. It's one of the few opportunities they have to compete on the same playing field with "big brother". Setting up a Facebook business page is a pretty user-friendly process - as the almost 900 million Facebook users can attest to.
The most important concept to understand is that there are Facebook "personal" pages - which are all about you as a person; and there are Facebook "business" pages - which are all about any one of six categories:
- a local place or business (based on a physical location)
- a company, organization or institution
- a brand or product
- an artist, band or public figure
- a cause or community
You can have a both a personal page and a business page. However, in order to set up a business page, you must first have a Facebook personal page. You don't want to mix them up, as they have (or should have) different audiences. You can and should invite your personal contacts to "like" your business page, but your business clients should not be connected to your personal page. (Think inappropriate "party" photos or potentially embarrasing posts from well-meaning friends.)
If you don't as yet have a personal Facebook page, you'll need to create one, so click here and set one up. Never fear, it's "easy as pie". Once you have your personal Facebook page set up, scroll down to the bottom of your new page, and click on "Create A Page" for your new business page. You will be taken to a new site where you will be able to choose from any of the above six categories. You will want to click "company, organization or institution", select from the drop-down menues and/or follow the prompts to create your page. When you have your business page set up the way you want it, you should begin to invite your friends and contacts to "like" your page, (kinda like casting "votes" for your business). Once 30 people like your page, you'll get access to insights about your page's activity, such as statistics you can use to measure your return on investment.
Current marketing strategists, myself included, encourage SMB's to develop and nuture relationships with your existing and prospective clients. Having a Facebook business page provides you with an avenue to post "status updates" to provide company information, such as announcing new products/services, or upcoming events you are involved with. Your contacts can also post comments or feedback on your Facebook page. It's called customer engagement (two-way conversations) and really good for nurturing relationships.
Some SMB's worry about the potential for someone to post a negative comment on their Facebook page and how that might affect business. It can happen, but knowing about the person's concern and having a chance to address their issue in public is clearly preferable to not knowing about it and having the issue broadcasted to all who will listen and go unaddressed. Other potential customers will see that you are doing your best to solve their issue and will have more confidence and trust in your business.
So take my word for it, and create a business Facebook page. What have you go to lose? Almost 900 million users can't all be wrong. You need to be able connect with your market share of them.
I invite readers to ask questions and/or to post a comment in the space below regarding your experience with Facebook business pages, to point out other advantages or disadvantages not mentiond here.