In December, I wrote the first part in a series on how to leverage social networking for your business. If you have a good Web presence, then social networking can provide a great tool for you to drive traffic to your site and capitalize on increased readership. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at ways to utilize a specific social networking tool for your business: Facebook.
Why pursue social networking for your business through Facebook?
At first glance, Facebook may not seem well-suited for business promotion. The premise of Facebook is to provide a means for friends and acquaintances to connect, stay in touch and interact with one another. However, at last count, Facebook had more than 350 million active users. This is a huge potential audience for your company’s products or services, and some companies have been very successful at managing a Facebook presence to increase and maintain customers.
Grow customers virally through Facebook.
Once you’ve established your presence on Facebook, you can grow customers virally through this social networking tool. When you create a Page for your business, Facebook users can become ‘Fans.’ When a user becomes a ‘fan’ of your page, his friends can see on his profile that he has become a fan of your page, and can follow a link to check out your Page. Your ‘fans’ can also share links and other information that you publish to their friends, thus growing your audience – and potential customers – virally through Facebook.
Create a Page.
While you can interact with people on Facebook as yourself, the best way to promote your business on Facebook is to create a Page for it. You can only create a Page if you’re an authorized member of an organization or company, but a Page gives you a professional face for your organization on Facebook. Once you’ve created a Page, you can add other people as administrators to help you manage Page content. When you create a Page, it doesn’t link back to you as the creator, and people aren’t able to use a Page to find your personal information.
Page offers valuable tools.
When you start a Facebook Page, you give yourself valuable tools to interact with your audience. Other Facebook users can become ‘fans’ of your page, and then they can see status updates that you post in their News Feeds. They can also browse to your Wall and view information that you’ve posted, interact with other users via comments and interact with elements of your Page. Finally, as a Page administrator, you can target your audience – sending updates to a specific demographic based on age, location or sex. This provides an extremely valuable method for you to target your marketing efforts at a core demographic, and to develop targeted messages for various demographics. You can also install Facebook applications on your Page, as well as manage Events through your page.
One way in which you can communicate with your audience via Facebook is to share information with your fans. You can let them know about new products, specific events or share news related to your business. Some of the best business Pages are fun blends of news updates and interactive communities. Sharing information enables you to alert people to new products or services, as well as being in the public eye when a potential customer needs the services or products you offer.
Another very successful way to interact with your fans is to offer promotions via Facebook. Some companies hold prize drawings for people who become ‘fans’ as a way to get more people to sign up for a Page. In this way, if the buzz is good, you can gain hundreds or thousands of new ‘fans’ for the price of a few $50 gift cards or promotional merchandise. Then you have a captive audience to share updates and promote your services.
You can also host promotions that feature special deals for your Facebook fans to get them to take action with your company. For example, some companies host promotions periodically where Facebook fans get 10 to 20 percent off of an item for a weekend, or 20% off of an order with a special promotional code. This entices fans to visit your business or website and take action – buying products from you. This can be a great way to drastically boost your business, as well as spread viral buzz about your company.
Finally, when you have a Page on Facebook, you can host events for your customers. This is a great option if you have a physical location and products to promote. If you create a Page on Facebook, you can host private “fans-only” events – extended hour events where only Facebook fans are admitted, and receive a discount or promotional materials for attending the event. If your business provides services, you can also host Events – free clinics or informational sessions for your services. Don’t underestimate events as a valuable way to promote your business.
Don’t just take my word for it that Facebook provides valuable social networking tools for businesses. Personally, I have a Facebook profile and am a ‘fan’ of several businesses. These businesses include both services and products, and both physical and online-only businesses. Here are a few businesses that have utilized Facebook as a valuable way to promote their business and grow their customer base:
Zipcar is a car-sharing company with vehicles available in several major cities around the United States. Zipcar has a Facebook page, which to date has over 28,000 fans. Zipcar uses its Facebook page to share information and reminders about policies, host promotions and create a buzzing community of fans.
Land’s End is another company that has a Facebook Page and is successfully utilizing Facebook to reach potential customers. To date, Land’s End has over 253,000 fans. They regularly host promotions that involve giveaways to new fans, as well as use the Page to update fans about upcoming sales at the Land’s End website. Land’s End also hosts events which typically include promotions – all of which successfully generate buzz about products and increases sales.
Newegg is a website that sells primarily computers, computer components and computer accessories at reasonable prices, but they also sell other electronics. Newegg is a website only – no physical store locations to promote. However, Newegg has nearly 240,000 Facebook fans, and they employ a similar strategy to Land’s End on their Facebook page. Newegg uses its Facebook page to host promotions and share information about products with fans, but it’s also a fairly active fan community with people discussing computers and electronic products.
Finally, there’s Formaggio’s Kitchen: a physical store specializing in cheese and high-end food products. While Formaggio’s Kitchen does have a website storefront, it’s also a physical location, and much of its Facebook Page is dedicated to promoting the physical storefront. Formaggio’s Kitchen uses its Page to share information about products and post Events that it hosts at its storefront to sell and promote products.
You can leverage social networking for your business through Facebook.
These success stories prove that you can successfully leverage social networking to promote your business through Facebook. Thousands of businesses, both online only and with physical storefronts, utilize Facebook to reach a targeted audience and build a potential customer base. Even better – this is a relatively low-cost marketing tool: all you need is some time, or to hire someone to manage your business Facebook Page. Facebook provides an easy way to reach a potential audience of 350 million for the cost of a small time investment.