While I’ve had a personal Facebook account for awhile now, like many small business owners, I’ve simply ignored Facebook as a marketing tool for my business.
As the leading social media destination site, Facebook’s growth has been nothing short of astounding, but don’t assume it’s being used solely by teenagers and college-aged kids. According to stats from September 2008 to February 2009 from O’Relly Media:
- More than half of the 140 million Facebook users are out of college
- Total number of Facebook users between the ages of 35 and 44 increased by 51%
- Facebook users among the ages 45-54 grew by 47%
- Facebook users ages 26-34 increased by 26%
There are a wide variety of businesses using Facebook as a highly effective marketing tool, but if you’re anything like me, you might be asking yourself this simple question:
What can I possibly expect to get out of marketing on Facebook?
With a reasonable amount of effort, the benefits that you can expect to receive include:
- Obtaining new clients
- Building relationships with existing clients
- Promoting new products and services
- Building authority in your industry
- Create buzz and PR for your business
Getting Started with Facebook
Facebook provides two options to start marketing your small business using either Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups. While there are some distinct differences between the two, most for-profit small businesses will usually be better served using Facebook Pages instead of Groups. Facebook Pages will provide more extensive reach from the network because Facebook Pages are viewable by the entire network, which includes unregistered users. A group page can only be seen by Facebook users registered for that specific group.
Facebook Groups are built around a group of people rather than a specific business or brand. You should build your Facebook marketing around existing customers, prospective customers and “fans” rather than group “members”. Using Facebook Groups is a great way to create awareness about a topic or a cause, but Groups is not really setup or geared for users to become “fans” of your products and/or services. Another downside of using a Facebook Group vs. a Page is that group members are less willing to share information with friends of other group members.
If you’re looking to maximize your reach, a Facebook Page is probably your best bet, but there are some downsides to be aware of. While Facebook Page fans will only receive an update notification when sent a message from you, within a Group, members will receive the message directly via their Facebook “Inbox”. Update notifications for a Facebook Page are a little easier to ignore and dismiss than direct messages received via Facebook’s Inbox. Being a member of a Group opens the door to a little bit more personal communication than being a Page fan allows.
The primary benefit of a Facebook Page is that it allows you to strengthen your company’s brand by letting you build a broader fan base. Customers and prospects can follow you and become “fans”, receiving updates that you post to your Page.
There’s a much more important viral component to Facebook Pages that can go a long way in helping to build buzz for your small business as well. Each time a customer or a prospect becomes a fan of your page, all of their friends see that they’ve become a fan of your page. This viral aspect of Facebook Pages helps to attract other followers and build even more buzz for your business.
Additionally, you can use your Facebook Page as its own distinct media channel to market your products and services and share information about your company. You can post photos, videos, applications and messages, which are all broadcast for your fans and followers to view. Some companies have even decided to consolidate their entire web presence on their Facebook pages.
Setting Up Your Page
If you’re a small business or a one-man operation, you should setup your Facebook page with the company name/service, adding a few relevant keywords which will indicate the kind of information people will get if they subscribe to your Page. People will be more likely to become a “fan” when they see the topic in your page name is relevant to their interests. For example, if you’re a small business website owner with a domain name of jimjohnson.net and you’re running a copywriting and editing service, instead of using only your domain name when setting up your page, include a few keywords that describe it as well: jimjohnson.net – Copywriting and Editing Service.
Creating a new Facebook page also requires picking from three main category options:
- Brand, Product or Organization
- Artist, Band or Public Figure
Before you decide, make sure that the category you select is suitable because you cannot reselect or edit your category after you’ve made your initial category selection. Take a good look at the subcategory choices as well to see where your business is most suitable.
Before Publishing Your Facebook Page
Prior to publishing your new Facebook Page, you should add some relevant content so people will see the benefits of subscribing to your Page in the form of:
- Share some tips and advice on a topic of interest in your industry or niche.
- Maybe a “how-to” video.
- Import your blog latest blog posts.
Additional Resources for Marketing Your Small Business with Facebook:
- How to Market Your Business on Facebook (About.com)
- 9 Rules of Facebook Promotion Every Small Business Should Know (AllFacebook.com)
- 5 Tips for Getting More from Facebook (DuctTapeMarketing.com)