Facebook Gives a Face To Businesses, Too

In increasing numbers, (more than 500 million, in fact), people of all ages are “Facebooking” as a means of reaching out to long-lost high school friends and keeping in touch with far-flung family members.

But the business case for Facebook is also building for purposes of marketing business, adding value and empowering customers. And it’s evolving into a more business-oriented tool as a result. Most people don’t realize, for example, that Facebook offers an opportunity to establish a business account; it’s not just about individual faces out there.

That said, there are some guidelines worth heeding in establishing a presence for your business on Facebook.

•    Page setup and management – Once you’ve established a business account, don’t simply delegate the page’s updates to any old staff members or even the intern. This is especially true if you allow one of these individuals to serve as the administrator. Once an administrator, always an administrator. So, from a business perspective, only you, the business owner, should create your business page.

After doing so, add basic, but essential, information to your page such as links to the company website, newsletter subscription information, etc.

•    Claim your name to fame – Instead of telling customers to search Facebook for you, use the facebook.com/username tool to claim your business’ name on Facebook. For example, if your business is bobbysbits.com, claim the Facebook name of Facebook.com/bobbysbits. That’s a more direct way to get customers to your page and to generate more fans. And you only need 25 fans with Facebook to get a custom “username.” Plus, on the flip side, there are no longer limits to the number of fans or members you can have on your page or in your group, something Facebook used to direct.

•    Tout your Facebook presence – Promote it on your website, in the signature area of your emails, on your sales collateral. It’s especially important to reference Facebook on your Website so you can turn visitors and browsers on your website into fans of your Facebook page.

•    Go gangbusters by communicating on Facebook - Whether you’re offering a new product, hosting an event, sharing a press release or add a new sales team member, be sure to post it on Facebook. People who fan you want to hear news and updates so share many and share them regularly. This is also an opportune area to feature links to business-related content that’s educational in nature, information that can be linked to elsewhere on the web. By sharing useful articles and links to resources of interest to our fans, you’ll further your credibility.
•    Consider advertising on Facebook - Unlike some more broad-based advertising options, Facebook is one online advertising channel that offers the means of targeting people down to the smallest detail. Whether that’s targeting people who are receptive to nutritional supplements because they’re health savvy or doggie treats to beagle lovers, you can narrow the focus of your advertising. Plus, Facebook now offers a conversion tracking system to measure what happens on your website, for example, once a Facebook user sees or clicks on your ad and leaves the Facebook site.

•    Give your Facebook fans exclusive incentives – Recent research tells us that this is the #1 reason why people become fans of businesses on Facebook. In other words, provide specialized content with exclusive deals. You can offer deals exclusively to Facebook followers only – don’t promote these anywhere else. This is a good way to gauge how well your Facebook efforts are working.

•    Encourage interaction – In addition to posting information, use your Facebook wall to ask your fans questions, giving them a reason to communicate. To show the page is active, give the users control by allowing Fan posts to show up on the front page. By empowering your fans and encouraging their interaction, you’ll spur even more engagement and your page will appear very active. This may range from asking how fans are spending their holiday to asking what their favorite product of yours is.

•    Maximize your Facebook presence by streaming into other social networks – By using a tool like Hootsuite or Facebook Connect, you can highlight your business’s social involvement elsewhere on the web. And be sure to continue your marketing and communication efforts on your website, blog and elsewhere – it’s a classic case of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

•    Track your Facebook stats by adding Google Analytics to your Facebook page –  A quick search on the web and/or conversation with your favorite IT person can get your on board with creating a tag for each Facebook Page you’d like to track.

By following a few simple best practices, you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your Facebook presence.

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