This is a guest post written by my friend Erno Hannink, whom I was fortunate to meet at Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker’s SOBCon Event this past spring. And by the way, if you’ve not yet explored SOBCon, being held in Chicago on 4/29 – 5/1, you should.
To a lot of people, Facebook looks like the perfect place for consumer companies, and superstars. Large companies and big stars. With 550+ million users Facebook, is considered by many to be just another mass marketing channel. Just take a look at the top 10 Facebook fan pages or the fan pages for the brands. But Facebook isn’t really just a place for big companies. It’s a place where small companies can really shine.
It’s important to understand that Facebook is a social platform and nothing like mass media. You and your potential clients decide on a daily basis what they want to follow, look at and read. And as a brand – or a business large or small – If you spend too much time marketing and going “blah, blah, blah” about you, you, you, they can (and probably will) just tune out and stop paying attention – and following you.
Facebook presents a huge opportunity for businesses, and for small businesses especially, because it allows them to level the playing field and connect with customers and prospects and really drive sales. But you have to do it correctly in order to succeed. This is an opportunity you can take to start by developing a clear focus on what you do and for whom. If this is clearly stated in all your communications, especially on Facebook, you have a good chance of attracting an audience. And a platform like Facebook gives you the opportunity to reach 500 million people, so be clear and consistent with your messaging and the right people might just start following you. But it’s important to remember that Facebook is all about people.
Networking is a very personal thing. People want to connect with people, they want to talk and connect with other people like them. Real people. That is why Facebook is so strict about a personal profile. So your profile is about you and not about your company. Even when your business is just you.
Ready to dive in and do more on Facebook? Here are some things you can do to maximize your businesses’ presence:
Group or Page
For your company you can create a Group or a Page. Please be careful these are not the same. Some of the differences, for a FB page you can:
● create a custom URL
● add applications
● view visitor statistics (Page Insights)
● Video and photo public exchange
● “Related” event creation and invitation
With a group you can invite people in bulk and send private messages to all members.
An important advantage of a Page over a personal profile is that you can have an unlimited number of fans (people who ‘like’ your page) whereas on a your personal profile you’re limited to 5,000 friends.
A Page is more for long-term relationships and a group is more for hype and hosting a (quick) active discussion. See also Facebook Group vs Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better?
Fan (Official) Page for your company
Let’s say that you want a long term relationship with your customers, thus you start a fan page. Now what? How do you attract more fans to your page?
First complete the info section of your page. Click on the info tab of your page. Fill in what you do, a brief overview of your services or the products you sell, and the URLs to your website(s) and/or blog. Include http:// in all links that you list. That way visitors can click these links directly.
Be sure to add a profile picture to your Page. For this, go to the image on the left and click on the small pencil. This is a place where you can get some extra exposure. Do add something extra. You can use an image of 180 pixels wide and 560 pixels high. Add a photo of you and some extra text. The links in this image will not be clickable so it is better to add these in the info box.
Use the info box (right below the profile picture) to describe who the page is for and what is in it for them. It is also smart to add a link to your website and/or blog here. This is the first part of the page people can click on and will drive traffic to your website. See Mari Smith’s page for how she used the profile image, info tab and info box.
Now that you’ve got that done, it’s time to focus on content. Think of yourself as an information source and provide links to things that you think people might be interested in. Use articles from your blog and add some links to other great articles – things that were written by others, or news clips or other informational tidbits. Always add a bit of text explaining why you think the information is valuable. Invite interaction and conversation and when people comment, be sure and respond.
Nice URL for the page
Now your page on Facebook is looking good, there is information about your company, and there is some content. It is time to invite some friends to the party.
Start by suggesting your page to your friends. You can use the link ‘Suggest to Friends’ below the profile picture and select the friends that you want to invite. Once you have 25 or more fans you can change the ugly URL to a memorable one. Just go to facebook.com/username to get a nice URL that is also good for the search engines (SEO).
Now go add that personal URL to all your communications – email signature, twitter profile, other online networks, website, and blog. Do not forget to add this URL to the Info box on your personal profile. This way friends can easily find your page and will (hopefully) ‘like’ the page.
Send your update to Twitter
You want to attract fans via Twitter. I get a lot of traffic to my page through Twitter. When you publish a status update on your fan page, it will send an update to Twitter including a short link to Facebook. The short link is created by Facebook automatically and looks like this http://fb.me/FVkVZQ0n
To link your Page to Twitter, go here.
Now for the final touch – a custom tab on your page. A tab where you invite people that are not yet fans and persuade them to become a fan. It is not very difficult if you know a little about HTML. Look at this Welcome tab or Free Tips tab with a subscription box to my newsletter.
And for those of you who don’t know HTML, don’t despair. You can either ask a designer to do it for you, or you can do it using Pagemodo for free. Here’s a video showing how easy it is to use Pagemodo.
Erno Hannink blogs on ErnoHannink.com, is author of the book Attracting Clients, and is a speaker. He is The “Dutch Facebook Guy” and initiator and organizer of the Social Media Event, WordCamp Netherlands and Social Media Club Amsterdam.