Using Facebook to Grow Your Business

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for our Feb 2 webinar on how to use Facebook to grow your business. I shared some of the insights from my new book, The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can watch the recording here.

Blogger-in-Residence Steve King moderated and opened with some truly staggering statistics on just how significant Facebook has become:

· Over 100 million people in the US use Facebook

· The average person spends more time on Facebook than on any other single website

· Almost five percent of all online traffic today is on Facebook

The main message. As businesses, whatever size or industry we are in, we need to be where the customers are. And it’s becoming clear that the customers are on Facebook! Facebook is an incredible business tool because it has caused people to share more information about themselves than ever before – intimate details about their lifestyles, hobbies, and relationships. All of this information in turn is made available to businesses to target their advertising and messages.

Where to begin. It can be difficult and costly to drive traffic to a website. Instead of making your customers come to you, why not go to them on Facebook? A growing number of businesses are creating Facebook fan pages to replicate or even replace the functionality of their website. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. What is a Facebook fan page? A fan page is like your Facebook profile except for a business. It has a name, profile picture, and wall. Instead of friends, business pages have “fans.” For example, here is the fan page for my book. (Create your own by clicking here)The Facebook Era fan page

2. What is a fan? Fans can be anyone who chooses to associate with your company: customers, friends, employees, and most of all, potential future customers. The way you attract and retain fans is to consistently publish valuable wall updates which will appear if your fans’ News Feed. What do I mean by “valuable”? Well, instead of going for the hard sell on each wall post, try to link to and write about the things that matter to your customers. Provide helpful information and tips. Let your personality shine through. One small business owner I work with posts a funny joke every week to give his fans a break from their day.

3. How do I get more fans? After you have created a fan page, it’s a good idea to first invite friends, family and employees to become fans (click the “Suggest to friends” link below the fan page profile picture) so that by the time customers and prospects view the fan page, it already looks lively and exciting and they will be more likely to join in. By updating your page consistently- be it once a day or once a week, depending on how much you want to commit- your business can stay on people’s minds by showing up in their Facebook news feeds. Once you establish an expectation of how often you will update your page, make sure to follow through. Telling people about what’s going on in your company, and possibly offering special internet deals, will keep people interested and attract their friends to join as well.

Jonathan Smart, an Allstate insurance agent in Columbus, Georgia, wrapped up the webinar sharing his experiences on Facebook and using Hearsay 360, a Facebook small business application my company developed. Here is a summary of Jonathan’s advice:

· Facebook communications don’t have to be only business related. Facebook is different than other forms of customer outreach since it fuses personal relationships and business relationships in a way that forward-thinking companies can use wisely.

· For example, friendly happy birthday messages to clients through Facebook can make people feel a stronger personal connection to your company, and comments on people’s pages about some shared experience (nothing too personal or unprofessional, of course) can help show your company cares about their personal well-being.

I hope this webinar helped clear up some of the mystery surrounding Facebook and how to get started! Feel free to send me your questions on Twitter (I’m @clarashih) or on the book’s Facebook page!

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