You might know Facebook as the social network that you use to keep up with your friends, colleagues, and former classmates. But thanks to a number of features that the company has rolled out recently, it can also be a valuable utility for attracting and interacting with customers. So how do you take advantage of Facebook’s features for businesses? Here’s a look at some of the recent developments and trends.
Creating a Public Facebook Page
Unlike a Facebook profile, where you establish two-way relationships with friends and typically limit access to those people, Facebook Pages are public facing and allow anyone to be a “fan” without the need to reciprocate the relationship.
Many of the features are similar to profiles – you can fill out information about your business, share photos, and update your status. However, the fact that it’s public offers a number of bonuses. For one, you can easily market your page’s URL (and vanity urls, e.g. facebook.com/yourname, are rumored to be in the works) and let people become “fans” without providing them with access to your personal Facebook profile. Moreover, Facebook is increasingly giving prominence to Pages in user’s News Feeds – what they see every time they login – meaning your updates will be visible to your Fans there.
Publishing Useful Content to Your Page
Similar to a company blog or website, your Facebook Page can be used to share useful information with your Fans. The idea here though is to not be overly self-promotional, using the “Write Something” feature to broadcast not just news and promotions for your business, but also links and information that your Fans might find useful. Remember, these updates show up on your Fans’ homepages. Like any form of marketing, if you create too much noise without providing value, they’ll opt out.
Marketing Your Profile Offline
One of the more interesting recent developments with Facebook Pages is the ability to let customers become fans of you with a text message. The way this works is that customers text message the name of your business to Facebook’s short code (FBOOK – 32665). That means you can include this prompt in all of your offline marketing, whether it’s business cards, signage, flyers, a TV commercial, or just a casual conversation with someone. It has powerful immediacy, versus simply promoting the URL of your page.
Marketing Your Profile on Facebook
There are some free options for marketing your Facebook Page, like sending an invite to friends. However, if you want to do some targeted advertising for your Page, Facebook enables this too, letting you target an ad to very specific types of users (of a certain age, in a specific town, etc.) and encouraging them to become fans. In a sense, this type of marketing could have a greater ROI than anything else you try online. For example, versus getting a one-time click-thru to your company website from Google AdWords, if you’re able to get a Facebook Fan, it’s a potential customer you can engage with indefinitely – unless of course you do something that makes them opt out!
Cross-Promoting Your Facebook Presence
Finally, once you’ve mastered Facebook itself, make sure to include promotion of your Page in your traditional marketing, like your website, email newsletter, and 800 number. Depending on the medium, adjust your message accordingly – for example, on your 800 number, it’s probably best to promote the text message opt-in method versus reading out a URL.
While you’ve probably invested lots of money in developing an online presence, Facebook could be one of the most powerful mediums yet for your business. Many of your customers are already logging in every day, versus visiting your company website only when they need to. Moreover, it creates the opportunity for continual interaction with them, giving your brand mindshare and increasing the likelihood your customers will return to you time and time again.