Dec 092010
 

Facebook users represents a huge opportunity to connect with your customers.  Effective Facebook marketing is key to success in Social Media Marketing.  Utilizing all the potential this platform has to offer is important as it offers you a very inexpensive way to promote to your customers and also build your brand.  There are some easy but highly effective steps you can take to get started.  This entry talks about some general topics which will be explored in more detail in future blogs.

(image of wild winter berries growing in Stockholm, Sweden)

Creating a vanity URL with your brand name is important, however you can only do this after you accrue 25 fans (otherwise it will look like this: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eiconnectlink/135490946508868).  You should complete your profile with as much detail as possible and link to all your other social media accounts.  You should focus on making it appear as professional as possible to emphasize that you are indeed a legitimate business.  While working in e-Commerce we were always looking to use our web site to make us appear like a larger business.  Through professional design, we were able to give the impression we were a much bigger company.  It is useful to note, for a business, a Facebook “Fan Page” is much better than a group, if for no other reason than there is no message limit.  If you have more than 5000 fans in a group, you cannot message them all.

Something to consider is adding Static FBML (Facebook Markup Language).  You can find the link here: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=4949752878 .  This is the language used to develop Facebook Apps.  The primary concern for you, is that it allows you to create a custom landing page for your Facebook Fan Page.  This insures when someone visits your page, you will be able to make the proper first impression.

Now that you have a Fan Page, how do you get Fans?  First off, you should consolidate all your mailing lists and send a concise email out with a link to the Facebook page.  This seems like a no-brainer, but you should make sure to start by using all the contacts you already have.  Another good way is to join related groups, such as industry and professional associations and join the conversation.  This is a good way to get your page noticed.  You can also consider buying Facebook ads which are relatively inexpensive.  You can narrowly target people based on location, age, likes, interests etc.  There are some guidelines regarding ads see here: http://www.facebook.com/ads/mistakes.php#faq_1 .  Facebook offers campaign reports where you can access information on the people who actually respond to your ads. Once you know who these people are, you can more directly target them in future campaigns.  Once you have people on your page, if you are selling a product or service, consider offering discounts for Fans.  This will encourage people to become a Fan (and maybe actually make a purchase).  This also helps retain Fans for future marketing campaigns you may wish to run.

The best thing about social networking sites is you can put your Fans to work for you.  If you offer rewards for referrals (such as discounts or gifts for a successful referral), you can give your Fans incentive to promote your company for you.  You can also run promotions such as Groupons, where you allow people to bunch together to make a bulk purchase at greater discounts.  A giveaway is another way to get a lot of attention since word spreads fast through Facebook when something is free.  Consider using apps such as Wildfire (see blog http://eiconnectlink.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/wildfire/ for more information) to promote sweepstakes and contests which can engage Fans and utilize the social network newsfeed to further promote your page.  You can also use trivia and quizzes to get Fans interested.  The quizzes should have some questions about your company (such as what is the CEO’s email?) which force Fans to visit your company website to find the answer.  You should mix in pop-culture questions to make the quizzes fun.

Engaging your Fans is very important.  Talking to them is a great way to build your brand and also learn about what they want.  You should quickly respond to comments and answer questions with helpful information like links to resources to further answer their inquiries.  You can also respond with information such as what number to call and who to talk to if they have a problem.  Having online help available is a great way to keep your customers happy and happy customers will gladly promote your brand for you.

As far as your posts go, keep the content fresh.  Try to encourage a conversation to keep Fans visiting your page often.  Building a sense of community among Fans is a great way to build your brand image.  Organizing group chats with audio and video can help you learn about your customers likes and dislikes about your product and further foster the sense of community.  Sometimes it is important to also share useful or interesting information posted by others.  This can keep Fans interested in your page and get them commenting (which means you will enter their newsfeeds and have access to the rest of their Facebook friends).  You should however avoid posting too much, as clutter can cause people to leave a page quickly.  Keeping your posts a little mysterious can be helpful as well.  You can tease big news – like a new product release or promotion.  Teasing customers can keep them checking back for updates.  Posting images and videos are great ways to encourage comments and likes, so make sure to use this to your advantage.

There are a few more tricks, such as reveal tabs and profile photo hacks that can be employed strategically to help gain attention.   Reveal tabs are where someone first arrives at your page, they are encouraged to immediately “Like” it before they actually get to see the page.  This will get you into their Facebook newsfeeds and gain you a Fan right away.  Without a reveal tab, they may look at your page but never actually “Like” it.  A profile photo hack is a great way to stand out.  It’s a topic in and of itself and I will discuss it further in a future blog.  Here’s a link to some more information http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-profile-photo-hacks-2009-02 .

Facebook offers a unique way to interact with your customers.  It allows you to build your brand image.  A brand image is constructed one interaction at a time.  Each time you have a happy customer, your image will rise.  You should look at Facebook as a way not just to market to and get new customers, but as a way to actually help make their experience with your company better.  By listening to their feedback, it will also help you tailor your product offerings to what your customers want.  It will allow you to focus limited resources where they are best utilized.  The connections established by Facebook between people are a great way to spread information about your brand and promote your company in a cost effective way.

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