22 Ways to Market with Facebook, Part 1

August 2, 2010

By Matt Michel

A lot of people limit the use of the popular social media site, Facebook, to personal, non-business activities.  If you work in a cubicle for a Fortune 1000 corporation, that’s fine.  In fact, given big company paranoia that might even be a smart career decision.  But if you work for, or own a small business, it’s a mistake to miss out on the Facebook phenomena. 

In case you’re one of the few people in the world without a Facebook account, or one who has one but doesn’t use it or understand what the fuss is all about, let’s define it.  Facebook allows you to interact with “friends” digitally by sharing information, Links, videos, pictures, and chatting.  These actions are social in nature, resulting in the term, “social media.”

Think of it this way… Interacting with people on Facebook is a little like attending a Chamber of Commerce mixer.  Friends, suppliers, customers, and prospects are all milling around, talking with one another.  The principle difference with Facebook is the interactions occur online, improving your efficiency.  Your interactions aren’t limited to the people who can physically attend the event.

Many of the same social conventions that apply to a mixer or social event, apply to social media.  People will avoid the insurance salesman who shills non-stop as loudly as possible about his products.  The same applies to strong political opinions and excessive evangelism. 

I don’t want to imply that you should never share your faith or views.  Just temper them and talk about other things or you will soon find yourself speaking solely to the like-minded.  If your objective is to interact with a broader group or even, to persuade, you’ll increase your effectiveness by reducing your stridency.

Facebook may have started with college students.  It’s not limited to students any longer and is rapidly growing.  Consider the following statistics from istrategylabs.com and Facebook:

In January 2009, Facebook had 42 million users in the United States.  A year later, it had 103 million!  Worldwide, it boasts 400 million active users.

• 50% of Facebook users login daily.

• The typical user has 130 Facebook friends.

• 54% of Facebook users are female.

• The largest age group is 35-54 with 29% of Facebook users.

• The 35-54 age group grew 328% during 2009.

• The 55 and over age group grew 923% in 2009.

People in their 40s and 50s are using Facebook to reconnect to long lost high school and college friends.  Grandparents are using it to see pictures of their grandkids.  Your customers are using Facebook to connect with family, friends, and the community.  If your customers are there, you should be too.

Here are 22 ways to use market your company with Facebook…

1. Create an account
Before you can do anything else, you need to create a Facebook account.  Do it.  Accounts are free and it only takes seconds to create one.  This will result in your personal page, which is not the same as your company page.

2. Set up a fan page
As soon as you set up your own account, create a “fan page” for your company.  Two parties must both agree to become Facebook friends.  Anyone can become a fan of a fan page. 

In Facebook terminology, users and fan pages have “walls.”  Anything posted to a wall is visible when people visit your profile or your fan page.  In addition to you, friends can post on your wall and fans can post on your fan page wall.  These posts also appear on friends’ and fans’ “news feeds,” which are seen when a user logs into Facebook.  Thus, wall posts are one of the primary ways you interact with people.

3. Name your pages
Facebook allows users to name their pages.  This change is made through the profile.  This is important because it gives you a user friendly Link you can add to business cards and literature.  For example, the Service Roundtable’s fan page is www.facebook.com/serviceroundtable.  Before we named the page, the URL was facebook.com/a-long-string-of-meaningless-characters.

For some unknown reason, Facebook only allows you to change your page’s name one time, so think it through.  For my personal page every variation of my name was taken so I selected www.facebook.com/mattmichelpage.  If I had thought about it more, I would have tried matt.michel.

4. Complete your profile
Think of your profile as an ad for you and your business.  Use it to market.  Use it to establish personal credibility.  Use it to provide all of your contact information.  For example, my profile includes blatant promotion for the Service Roundtable…

Work and Education

Service Roundtable
November 2002 - Present
Flower Mound, Texas

The Service Roundtable, the world’s largest private contractor alliance, is dedicated to providing service contractors with an affordable means to improve their business and financial performance leading to a profitable exit strategy.

All Internet based, the Service Roundtable currently serves the Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Electrical vertical markets and has more than 2500 users.

Join today atwww.ServiceRoundtable.com (be sure to check out the front page freebies).

5. Customize your fan page
Facebook does allow limited amounts of customization of your fan page.  To customize it, you  need the fbml add on.  Fbml is Facebook Markup Language, a version of html specific to Facebook.  Search in Facebook for “fbml” and click on the “add to my page” Link.

I recommend setting up a Welcome page.  This tells people about your company and provides Links external to Facebook, such as your website.  Once the Welcome page is set up, click on your fan page settings and make the Welcome page the “default landing tab” so that users who are not fans will see the welcome page first when visiting your fan page.  Fans, on the other hand, go straight to your wall.

6. Suggest your fan page
When you add friends, you should “suggest to friends” that they become fans.  You can do this once a week or so.  When they do become fans, this appears on their “most recent” news feed.  It’s not unusual for people to look at the most recent news and click to become fans to a page when they see a friend became a fan.

7. Accept a mix of business and personal
Anyone over age 40 has trouble with the mix of business and personal that Facebook entails.  We were all taught to keep business separate.  Most of the people I know who are under 30 find it natural to mix their business and personal lives.

Think of Facebook as attending a giant party where family, friends, and business acquaintances are all invited.  Inevitably, business creeps into discussions at these parties.  If you can accept it there, why not on Facebook?

8. Be transparent
Facebook has lots of options for privacy settings.  The default is transparency.  A lot of people hide everything from the public.  Why?  Who cares if someone can see your home address.  After all, it’s in the white pages.

I can understand tight privacy settings for minors, the elderly, and single women who might fear stalkers.  I can’t understand it for business owners who should welcome visits to their profile.  As a business owner you want friends, connections, and interaction.  You want to build relationships.  Allowing people to view your profile increases the odds that prospects will find common interests.

Before making you make your profile private ask, “So what if someone sees this?” 

9. Create lists
Facebook allows you to make segment your friends through the use of “lists.”  You can change privacy settings for different lists.  Lists also make it easier for marketing.  For example, you can create an “event” such as a special sale for service agreement customers or people who live in a particular part of town.

When you get a few hundred friends, going back and creating lists is tedious at best.  It’s far better if you create lists at the start and add people as soon as they become your friends.

10. Recruit
The fastest way to build up your list of Facebook friends is to aggressively recruit.  Add your profile Link to your email, put it on your website, and print it on your business card.  Ask people to become fans of your company fan page and friends of you.

Huntsville contractor Jim Batson took an old composite picture of the founders of a local civic club, blew it up into a poster and offered to send a copy to any of the current or former members of the civic club who became his friends on Facebook.  He also printed the company logo and contact information at the bottom of the poster.

You might think this is “buying” friends.  I call it recruiting. 

See Part Two for the remaining tips.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2010 Matt Michel

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