If the users of Facebook were citizens of a country, all 400 million of them would make up the third largest nation on the planet. And with over 50% of them logging into the site every day, developing a Facebook presence or maximizing your existing page is becoming an important part of the overall marketing mix for businesses of all sizes.
Not sure where to start? Here’s my two cents:
Create your personal profile: If’ you’ve not signed up for a personal account, visit www.facebook.com and create your personal profile right now. I can wait for a minute. If you’ve avoided joining for any number of reasons (privacy concerns, “I’m too old,” etc.) sorry…you need to see firsthand how the site works for the people you’re trying to reach. You don’t have to add tons of photos of your vacation or update your status every hour, but you do need to find your way around and the only way to do that is to jump in.
Now create your Fan page: While people have profiles, businesses and non-profits have fan pages. Because fan pages are public sites, make sure to fill out the requested information with as much detail as you can to get the attention of Google and other search engines. There are a number of smaller businesses using Facebook as a main web presence instead of building a stand-alone website.
Spread the word: Once 25 people become fans of your business, you can choose a custom URL for your page (www.facebook.com/YOURBRAND). Spend a minute thinking about your URL because you cannot change it once you pick one. When your custom URL is active, add that address to all of your customer facing contact information (business cards, email signatures, contact information on brochures, etc.).
Get to know the rules around contests: Facebook has set the bar fairly high for using their platform to promote contests and giveaways. Here are the rules straight from Facebook and here is a good take on translating the rules into plain English from 360 PR Blog.
Don’t SELL anything: Facebook marketing is a bit of a paradox. While people opt-in to receiving your content updates by clicking a button to become a fan of your page, aggressive marketing frequently does not work and can even damage your online reputation. Unsubscribing from your page is just as easy as was to become a fan, so make sure to keep things low pressure, fun and informative.
Share useful content: If you need to ease off the sales pitch to be successful, what should you do? Focus on delivering useful content for your fans. The content you share does not have to be original for Facebook (but some exclusive content now and then adds perceived value to being a fan of your page). Here are some possible content sources you can add to Facebook:
- Blog — If your business has a blog, you can easily repurpose that content by giving it a quick edit and manually reposting it or you can set up an RSS feed that automatically publishes new posts to Facebook.
- Twitter — Are you using Twitter as well? Again, there are a number of choices to republish your Twitter feed on your fan page. Make sure the option you choose to publish your tweets looks good in Facebook. Some Twitter RSS widgets include a lot of extra stuff that will clutter up your page.
- White papers — If you offer white papers on your main website or blog, those are great content offers to pass on to your Facebook audience.
- PowerPoint decks — If you have some presentations that can be understood without you having to talk me through things, consider signing up for www.slideshare.net and post your best talks as another perk for your fans.
Add photos and video: Always have a digital camera ready to capture stuff to share with your fans. Heading to a tradeshow? Post pictures of your booth once you’ve set up. Working a community event? Share some video highlights of the day. Photos and video will often be the content that receives the most views or comments from your fans.
Share other stuff you find online: If all this talk of creating content has you second guessing getting involved on Facebook, an easy shortcut is to share other content while you are taking time to create some of your own. If you’re an accountant, post a link to an interesting tax story from CNN/Money.com. If you run a landscaping business, share a YouTube video about how to keep your trees healthy between trimmings.
Get fans involved in content creation: Encourage fans to post pictures on your wall. Ask your community for feedback on existing products or invite them to give you their reactions to newer ideas that are still in development. And if a fan says or posts anything, make sure to reply as soon as you can. Especially if it’s negative. Other fans will be watching how you handle the occasional complaint.
What’s the return on investment? Great content is your ticket to the top of your fans’ consideration set.
If you were going to order a pizza for dinner tonight, which pizza places jump into your mind? Those pizzerias make up your pizza consideration set. And as the average Facebook user spends over up to 55 minutes a day on the site, the more you can become a welcome part of your fans’ Facebook network, the bigger piece of those fans’ consideration set you can capture.