opinion

8 Ways to Make Facebook Work for Your Business

Joe D
Most people know that it’s important to start building a presence for their business on social media networks, but many don’t really know the best way to approach this in a professional and beneficial manner. Here are eight tips to get you started from the ground up so you can get a solid start at today’s most popular social site, Facebook.com.

Step #1 – Build a Fan Page
There are two ways to build a presence on Facebook, one is to launch a personal Facebook profile, but the other way is to create a fan page, which will allow you to create a separate online presence apart from you as an individual. A fan page also allows you to invite people to “like” your page, “become a fan” of your business, and will also help you create a quick social network hub to help brand your products or services to the Facebook masses.

Step #2 – Link and Add Comments REGULARLY
Once you have your fan page set up, be sure to post links to stories, news items and promotions on your website that you think will attract the attention of your fans. The more content you add, the more you will personalize your page, which will increase the amount of interaction and activity on your fan page with your targeted customer base. It is important to do this regularly – at a minimum, once a day – for best results, however, at least three to four times daily. Check comments, post responses to your customers and fans – this is all about being “social,” remember?

Step #3 – Integrate Your Fan Page With Everything Else
Do you blog, Twitter or MySpace? Make sure to integrate your new fan page at Facebook into everything else you do. It will layer your information across various platforms, allowing you to reach readers, viewers, fans and – hopefully – potential customers that you might have missed out on otherwise. Link from your fan page to your blog site and from your blog to your fan page, and then blast it all out on Twitter and everything in between. In this case, more really is better.

Step #4 – Get Personal
A lot of companies make the mistake of just throwing up a company logo and missing out on the opportunity to really connect with their fans and customers. Posting photos of individuals within your company that deal directly with the public – like ‘Fran in customer service’ or ‘Dave in sales’ – can really help people to put a face to the company name, further branding and benefiting your company in the process. You don’t want to be anonymous – the key here is to help your customer base become so familiar with you, your business and your staff, that they feel comfortable and look forward to making a purchase or working with you again in the future.

Step #5 – FREE STUFF
Half way through the list and it’s time to give a little something to your fan base. By giving out small rewards that are exclusive to your Facebook fan page, you will increase the interactions and activity on your page in an instant. Freebies can include online e-book downloads, exclusive virtual prizes such as screen savers, wallpapers, etc., or even discount voucher codes – the sky’s the limit. These things might cost you a little to create and distribute, but it will help build loyalty among your fans and will ultimately inspire sales.

Step #6 – Contests and Events
A lot of businesses have seen a huge response from running competitions via their fan pages such as photo caption contests or other types of online-based interactions that can be rewarded with a small prize or opportunity. Make sure you promote your contests as well as any other types of events that you plan via the “events” tab provided in your Facebook account. Through this tab you can even send out invites to your fans so they will stay updated on everything you are offering. If you will be making an appearance, speaking at an event or attending a conference or expo, be sure to promote that there as well.

Step #7 – Shout it From the Mountaintops!
Make sure that everyone knows you have a Facebook fan page. Put a link to it in your e-mail signature file, post one of those little blue F graphics on your website to encourage visits from customers to increase activity, participation and sales – just get it out there any way that you can. You can even add your fan page URL to your marketing and promotional materials, whatever you think will work to get more fans joining your fan page at Facebook.

Step #8 – Go The Distance...
When you launch a social network fan page at Facebook or anywhere else, you need to be ready to commit to adding to it and paying attention to it on a daily basis. You can’t just do Monday thru Friday, as many fans spend more time on Facebook on the weekends, and you can’t just do it once a week or once a month and leave it. In the end, you will only get out of social networking as much as you put into it. You have to be willing to go the distance in order to yield the best results possible.

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