Face it, Facebook is it!

Our next top social networking site for serious SMO, Facebook! With this weeks release of The Social Network, we thought it appropriate to dive right in!

To put this mega channel into perspective here are some facts…

  1. Facebook has over 350 million users worldwide
  2. The average Facebook user has 130 friends
  3. The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  4. If Facebook were a Country it would be the third largest in the world
  5. Most recenty and very important, Facebook beat Google (all their sites combined) in ‘time spent’

These statistics are incredible and probably outdated in, oh, another minute. The number of users and the activity levels on Facebook alone make a strong argument for any business to be here. But before you go there, know how to get there and join the conversation.

Facebook is a medium that allows users to keep up with their friends, follow favorite pages, express themselves and their opinions and send out location notices via geolocation. As you can see from the facts above everyone is using it. The fastest growing demographic seems to be 50+generation – a generation of established consumers!

Profile

Do you currently have a facebook profile? If not, I encourage you to get one and check it out. Browse some discussions, connect with friends, see what they are fans of, what they are doing and how they are using it.  If you are going to start building a following for business purposes, it is highly recommended you do not use your personal profile. You probably don’t want to share all your personal stuff with customers. Instead, build a profile using your business email address. Keep your profile main stream. In other words, don’t shout out that you are a member of the Tea Party and you belong to a cult. Just leave your political and religious views blank. Otherwise, you may set off a few people unnecessarily right out of the gate. However, if that is what you are selling, it may work for you. So consider your audience.

Fan Page vs. Group Page

Now you have a choice to make. There are two types of Which is better for your immediate needs a Fan Page or a Group Page? Here is the difference:

Fan Page:

In a nutshell, a fan page allows fans to sign up and have your posts show up on their walls and showcase your page as a “favorite” on their profile. It also allows for use of applications and will allow more than 5ooo members. It is a very versatile and anyone can join with the exception of those restricted by age or location if these paremeters are set up.

The kicker…A Page can be indexed by external engines such as Google. Providing some serious SMO!

Group:

A group is more private. It is best used for associations or networks. Groups offer far more control over who gets to participate. Permissions settings make it possible for group administrators to restrict access to a group, so that new members have to be approved. Messages can be sent to group members that appear in their in box.

The choice is up to you and who your customers are. We hope the information we have provided you with helps you make the best decision for your needs.

Once you have identified the need for Group or Fan Page you need to set it up. Be sure to complete as much information as possible in the profile, using as many appropriate key words as possible so that you are found. Then get ready to provide content and build your following!

Content and Followers

There is an art to building content and establishing your following.  First, understand who you are speaking to. What will be of interest to them? How can you recognize them? Once you can answer these questions search for relevant information that compliments your followers interests and ties into your business. So, if you are a resort in the Orlando market you may want to highlight Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you are a ladies clothing shop, you may want to highlight an article in the fall issue of Vogue or discuss fall trends for belts. When you post these discussions and articles try to ask questions too. Encourage the group to participate. Maybe ask for them to share photographs.

Once content is created and posted, begin reaching out to your existing client base.  Invite your existing clients who are on Facebook to “friend” your business profile. Once there you can “suggest” your fan page to them. Don’t just send a generic Facebook invitation. Personalize it. You may also want to entice a following with a contest. Something like, “The first 25 new followers will receive a 25% discount for an in store or online booking”.  But in all honesty, it is best to have grown your following organically, without enticement. They should want to follow you because you provide something they want or are interested in. That way you will have longevity. We should note, that if you opted to host a “group” page rather than a “fan” page you can invite people directly from the group using their email address. They do not need to be a “friend”.

You have probably heard the phrase, “quality over quantity” before. If you are following How To Go Social’s posts you have.  Don’t just post something to have posts. Be sure they are relevant. Be careful not promote yourself too much. Encourage your followers to do that for you. Recognize them personally. Follow their activity. Again, using the example of a resort, if they recently stayed at your resort, ask for a positive review on your facebook page when they check out. If you see a post on twitter or elsewhere that highlights your business or the service you provide upload it to your page.

Influence Influencers

Follow and fan vendors, associations and other sources that may become “influencers”. Give a shout out on their page about how great their customer service or their product is, for example. The same goes for your followers. Those that have become “friends” of your profile and page will create posts. If their posts are appropriate “Like” or comment on them. As a result, you will begin to see who is talking the most on your page on your behalf, or becomes an influencer. Support them on the various channels they participate on.

There are apps for this too!

There are a variety of applications available for your facebook fan page that will help to jazz it up. Here is a sampling of some our favorites.

  1. Facebook Notes – this app is created by Facebook and allows you to import your RSS feed from your blog.
  2. Static FBML – This app allows you to upload unique, stylish pages to your facebook page. It is popular as a Welcome page displaying your logo and call to action
  3. Posted Items Pro – if you have videos or music you want to share this is a great application to embed these files on your page

There are many more fine details that go into growing a following and building your brand on Facebook. One item we didn’t even touch on is Facebook Places. Keep an eye out for future posts about geolocation for social media. This post is a basic introduction to Facebook. But you should be getting the hang of things? The main things to keep in mind: quality over quantity, reach out to your client base and listen, provide feedback and information they want to hear and engage, keep it business oriented, finally, be social!  And if you don’t think you have the time to make the most of your social media, contact someone who can help you go social, like How To Go Social!

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