By Alli Summerford
January 15, 2009
You can’t read a paper or watch the news without being bombarded by stories about the ever-ubiquitous social media trend. In March, social media passed online pornography in terms of popularity, according to Hitwise. Now that’s really saying something.
Many of my small business clients have asked me about how social media fits into their business model; there is still much skepticism surrounding its effectiveness. In this newsletter and in the series that will follow, I will offer practical advice for incorporating social media in your small business marketing plan. This article focuses on Facebook. The next in the series will focus on Twitter. A third will cover other social media outlets that offer online marketing opportunities for small businesses.
I recently attended a social media workshop where Mack Collier, a social media expert, spoke. He had a great one liner that sums up perfectly the rationale behind integrating social media in your company’s communications and marketing. He said, “Fish where the fish are.” Increasingly, your target audience is spending their time in these social media sites – talk to them where they are. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
Started in 2004, Facebook has grown to over 200 million users. If you haven’t joined Facebook yet, now is the time. It is a great way to connect with friends and family as well as expand your business’ reach and exposure. The get the most out of social media, you need to commit to being an active participant in the community. You can sign up here: http://www.facebook.com/ Please keep in mind that there are two types of pages on Facebook: personal pages and business pages. You will need to sign up as a person first, and then you can create the business page within that account with you personally as the admin.
How It Can Work for You
As a small business owner, you can set up a business page on Facebook that is publicly available. Facebook users can then become a fan of your business. When a user becomes a fan of a business page, that page is featured in the news feed of all that user’s friends, allowing your reach to expand in ever-widening circles. The business page allows you to stay in touch with your fans by posting news items, status updates, photos, links and videos related to your business. Your business Facebook page is the ideal way to share all the news and happenings surrounding your business as well as create a two-way dialog with your customers and potential customers. As an added bonus, social media sites are an easy and effective way to build inbound links to your site, both with the links that you post on your profile as well as other users that pick up those links and re-post them. To sum up the advantages to small businesses, Facebook can allow you to:
- Expand your reach on the Internet by fishing where the fish are
- Share business news and information
- Create a dialog with customers and potential customers
- Encourage inbound links to your main business web site
How to Set Up Your Business Page
Here’s a step-by-step to help you get started.
- Sign up for your business page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
- You need to be a Facebook member in order to create your business page, so if you aren’t a member, jump on board.
- Upload your logo and any related business pictures, including your locations, facilities, products, etc.
- Fill in all your company information, including a link to your company’s web site
- Share your new page with all your friends on Facebook
- Encourage your employees who are likely already on Facebook to become a fan and share with their friends
- Promote your Facebook page on your web site and on other social media sites. See how one of my clients has added her Twitter and Facebook profile links right to her home page: www.villagedermatology.net
- Update your page regularly with news about your company, products, and services.
The more you use it, the more you will get out of it. It is about building relationships with customers and those interested in your products and services. Active participation is critical to that relationship building.
Facebook allows business pages to grab their username as soon as the business page has 25 “Likes.” You request a username for your business so that people can find your business on Facebook using an address like this: www.facebook.com/yourbusinessname. This is a big improvement over the long and hard to read URLs that are used by default. If you already have a business page with more than 25 likes/fans, you can go to this link to request your username: www.facebook.com/username.
This marketing opportunity falls within the heading of Dandelion Marketing that I have written on before. It is another great to spread the word!