More than half a billion people around the world now use Facebook. That is a lot of potential customers for any business, and to reach them, you too have to be part of Facebook. Social media can be an excellent marketing tool if used effectively. Even more importantly, it’s free. In the early days of a new company, marketing is vital but money is tight. Facebook offers an unmissable opportunity to get free exposure. Several Facebook features are useful for marketing.
The main marketing tool used by businesses on Facebook is the Page function. A page is very similar to an ordinary Facebook profile. Instead of representing an individual person, an official Facebook page can represent an organisation such as a business, charity, band, or even a celebrity.
With a page, the organisation can share content, links, multimedia and information. Customers or fans of the brand can post messages on the page. People who use the company’s products can ‘like’ the page, which means they will see everything posted on the company page in their own Facebook news feed.
The page can also be linked to the company website by adding a ‘like’ box. Clicking this box adds the company’s page to the user’s Facebook account. Every time someone ‘likes’ the company page or a page on the company website, the content is shared to that person’s Facebook feed, and can be seen by all their friends. The potential for content to spread quickly across the web is huge.
The secret to creating a successful page is to add personality. Engage potential customers with discussions, a competition, details of special offers and recommendations.
Facebook pages also allow you to view detailed analytics of each interaction. You can find out which posts are most viewed, where in the world people who ‘like’ the page are from, and view demographic information about users.
Advertising your page
For a cost, Facebook allows companies to advertise pages with custom-made advertisements within the site. This will mean that people will see an advert for a business on the right-hand side of their Facebook profile. Clicking it will take them to the relevant Facebook page. This can draw in people who aren’t already aware of the company. Adverts are offered on a pay-per-click basis.
If an advert is beyond the budget of a cash-strapped start-up, Facebook’s free marketing possibilities are still worth the effort. Facebook recently announced changes to the page system, making them even more like individual profiles, and adding features to enhance interactivity.
Facebook also offers a range of social plugins that enable you to integrate a company website with Facebook itself, to a customisable degree. For example, one social plugin allows users to integrate Facebook with the login system of their website. Instead of filling out a registration form and creating a new login name and password, customers can instead simply login with their Facebook login details. However, installing such features on a website can be complicated. If you aren’t well versed in web development, it might be best to get help from someone who is before making any drastic changes.
It’s free, so why not experiment?
For some businesses Facebook can become an invaluable marketing tool. For others, it may not fit so well. But even companies who don’t use Facebook extensively still maintain some presence there, because with such a large number of users and no cost involved in maintaining a profile, there isn’t really much to lose. Since Facebook is currently free to use, why not experiment with it? You could find great marketing opportunity.
Matthew Brown is a member of the Business Helper team.
Want to get the message out to your prospective customers? Have you considered Facebook as part of your marketing plan?
Here are some top tips for using Facebook to market your business.
1. Define your plan
Facebook certainly isn’t for everyone and that applies to business too. The first consideration should be, what do you hope to achieve from a Facebook group or page? If you are just starting one as you feel you should have one, it’s best to look more closely at how you can use it to your advantage.
2. Always keep the communication two way
Respond to those who give feedback or join in a conversation, encourage debate and opinions or use special offers exclusive to Facebook fans.
3. Forget the hard sell
Facebook isn’t the place for it, your page should inform, educate and share experiences, helping people trust your brand and your services.
4. Always link your Facebook page from your company website and newsletters
Maximum exposure and link backs are key and really help your search rankings.
5. Competitions work brilliantly on Facebook
They are great for engaging with your readers about your brand. Encourage people to post pictures or videos of them using your product. We recently ran a ‘win a pair of cufflinks everyday’ for our client Paul Costelloe, encouraging fans to state where they would wear their cufflinks. This encouraged some entertaining answers!
6. Think younger
The demographic for Facebook leans towards young people, teenagers in particular. This should be considered in your expectations about the return you will get from the activity you choose to do. Anything geared towards young people can be expected to perform faster and better.
7. Don’t expect an instant following
These pages take time and effort to set up and maintain. Fewer fans but loyal ones are much better than thousands who don’t care about your brand.
8. Create ‘brand ambassadors’
The aim with your fans should be to create ‘brand ambassadors’. You want people to really buy in to your brand and in turn tell their friends all about it. This word-of-mouth marketing is a fantastic tool but should be handled with caution – as quickly as good news spreads, bad news spreads twice as fast.
9. Make it personal
Get your staff involved in contributing to the page and interacting with customers. People appreciate this much more than a faceless customer service number.
10. Keep marketing messages to a minimum
People will soon switch off if it’s all ‘me, me me!’ Make it about them and the rewards will come flooding in.
Mario Thomas is Managing Director, Chapter Eight Ltd
Do you have any other tips on how to use Facebook for business marketing? Please leave your tips in the box below.