The Big 4: #1 Facebook

Number one of the current big four is Facebook. What I want you to work out from this particular section is whether or not Facebook is relevant for your business, because it isn’t relevant for every business. If it’s not relevant, don’t use it. If it relevant, then you will need to be looking at building Facebook pages, not a profile.

A profile on Facebook is about you the person and the page is about your business, whether that’s you as a consultant or your products or services etc. You must distinguish the difference between a page and a profile.

First of all, we need to explore whether it is relevant for you. You’ve got to work out whether your audience are on Facebook and whether your audience actually want to hear from your business while they’re on Facebook. The chances are that many of my clients are on Facebook. Having said that, when they’re talking with their family and friends about the fun things that they did on the weekend, do they really want to hear my message about Web Design? Probably not, in the same way that I won’t want to be hearing about pensions or accounts. As a general rule, consumer products do really well on Facebook, whereas business to business does not, but you need to explore this in more depth for your company.

If you’ve decided that you are going to build up a Facebook fan page, then definitely make sure you add it to your blog. Tell people that you’ve got a fan page in the first place. A fantastic title for a blog about your fan page might be “The 5 compelling reasons why you might like to join us on our Facebook fan page”. You can then you educate your readers as to exactly why they might want to join your Facebook fan page.

There’s various different “likes” that you can put onto your own web page and one of them is a Facebook fan page like. What that allows you to do is have a “like my Facebook fan page” on your own website page.

Now, on the actual fan page itself, make sure that you highlight why people should become a fan. Are you going to give them their latest news first through Facebook? Is it a discount code for your products or services? Do you run Facebook competitions? If you don’t have a solid reason, then why should somebody actually become a fan of your page? So, look at some other examples and work out what is a good and viable option that you can use to encourage somebody to want to become a fan of your page.

Even with lot of reasons to become a fan, if you don’t post often enough, they’re soon going to forget that you’re there. Don’t spam and don’t overdo it, but certainly don’t let your fan page become like a ghost town. You need to regularly post on your Facebook fan page.

Whilst you’re doing that, you also need to encourage interaction. The types of things that you might want to post could be questions, they could be competitions or they could be polls about something related to what you do. This can be great for market research or developing products to better meet the needs of your target clients. In this way you can gain valuable insights in a way that encourages interaction.

This one sounds obvious, but also take time to thank your followers for following. It’s a very simple action, but there’s nothing more rewarding for the person who’s followed you than to be personally thanked.

Consider your content plan and use it to find relevant photos and videos you could share. They don’t have to all be videos and photos that you’ve created, it could be other people’s content that you’re just sharing to be helpful. Some of it really ought to be your own and don’t copy others and try to pass it off as your own. You can use videos on a mix of YouTube or Facebook and Facebook users really like photos, so remember that good content doesn’t have to be reams of text.

If your business has a physical location, then why not set it up on Facebook Places? When you do that, have a sticker in your window which says “Check In on Facebook”. Encourage your visitors to check in, because when they check into your establishment, they tell all of their Facebook friends about your business. When your customers have shared your location with their friends, make sure that all of the information is filled in on your Facebook Places page so that their friends can get the information they need about, such as opening times etc.

Who else do you know on Facebook that’s using Facebook pages successfully for their business like you? Is there a natural bond between the two businesses? If there are mutual benefits to what you do, then cross page promotion can be valuable. Post something on their page and let them post something on your page. By cross promotion some of the people who are already their fans will become aware of what you do and may become fans of your page. It is essentially about seeing social media as a vibrant community that you can get involved in.

If you are mentioning individual fan page users, maybe as competition winners, or to send a message of thanks, use their full name. If it highlights in blue, it will alert them to the fact that you’re talking about them. It’s really good for engagement as it encourages a response and the sharing of the message.

If you have a business website, you should avoid allowing Facebook to be the centre of your online universe. What you should be doing is trying to get people to come across from Facebook onto your website. A good way to get people from Facebook to your website is to tease some information. Provide snippets of information in a few posts that refer people back to your full blog. On your blog, you would then have some form of email capture, so that people can start to connect with you through their email account, not just their Facebook.

In guiding people to your website and gathering information there, you’re not leaving Facebook in control. If Facebook disappears overnight, you haven’t lost everything; you can still communicate with the contacts you have made.

One of the great things that has happened to fan pages is the timeline. The timeline allows you to put milestones of things that have happened in your business. This is particularly useful if you’ve been building your business for a long time and you want to show some of the things that you’ve achieved. This could include awards that you’ve won or certain new product innovations that you’ve developed. People often respect and trust a well-established business with a successful track record. You can effectively use milestones on your Facebook timeline to display some of the key information to build that trust.

If your business runs events, then make sure you use Facebook events to promote them. This is a great way to get the word out that you’ve got an event coming up. If you are going to host an event, then why not have some status updates that start talking about how many days to go etc. That way, you can start to build up a bit of momentum and buzz around your event. That event can be online or offline, it could be a webinar as much as it could be a seminar.

Some posts may be more important than other posts. What Facebook allows you to do is either to highlight the post, or even stick it to the top for a set period of time. Make sure to use that feature to get the more important messages a priority status, so more people see them. If something’s really important, stick it right to the top. Let’s say it’s that event that you are running, a fortnight before you can create a status update to stick right to the top of your timeline to help fill any empty seats.

In addition to these features, there are also lots of Facebook apps. Be sure to have a look around the different apps and find out if there’s any that are really relevant to what you do.

One of the vital things that you must do on all of these social networks and especially Facebook is create your Vanity URL. This means you’ll get a URL like “Facebook.com/eltonboocock” which is far better than “Facebook.com/usereltonboocock1287942”. It makes it easy for you to share your Facebook fan page on business cards, email signatures etc.

So, there are a lot of things that you can do with your Facebook fan page and the particular ones that you choose will be custom to what you do. At the centre of everything should be your audience and consideration needs to be given on what they want to hear from you. With this in mind, make sure that you post relevant content regularly.