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Once upon a time it was novel and awesome if you had a website for your business. Now, you’re an anomaly if you don’t. Say you don’t have a website and people look at you like you’ve switched into some foreign and ancient dialect they don’t understand.
Then time went by and Facebook came along. And it was novel and awesome if you had a Facebook business page. But a similar thing happened, and now if you don’t have a Facebook business page people look at you askance. In fact, some businesses are using Facebook instead of a website.
This is, if no longer novel, still awesome, but so many businesses stop short at entering a company bio, dropping in a logo and posting the occasional update. There are options and opportunities you won’t want to miss, so find out how to go beyond simply having a Facebook page and actually using it to your marketing advantage.
Create A Landing Page
Many small businesses set up their Facebook page and stick to the ubiquitous “Wall”. It’s a great place to start but you can also create custom landing pages so your first customer “touch” is a branding opportunity.
There are lots of ways to use landing pages. You can entice customers to “Like” your page. You can create a more memorable experience for your visitors. You can showcase products or services in a visual way beyond the simple text and thumbnail photos that accompany a Wall post. You can use the page to showcase advertisements, events or seasonal information.
You can even hide special information, deals or offers that become available only after the visitor Likes your page. This is a great way to encourage new fans and to create a sense of exclusivity and “specialness” around your online community.
Hold A Contest
Holding contests on Facebook is a great way to generate interest, encourage participation, collect email addresses for your email list and create an engaging experience for fans. Contests are also a great way to generate that sense of exclusivity. Online fans like to be appreciated and you can build community loyalty by offering incentives that can’t be found anywhere else.
A contest doesn’t have to be complicated. You can hold a trivia contest or a photo contest and give a prize to the correct answer or the best photo. You can have a sweepstakes and raffle a prize to a random winner. Make it fun, and make it relevant. It’s not the best idea to give away, say, an iPad, unless you sell iPads, or a dinner for two at a local restaurant unless you’re that restaurant. Make the offer relevant to your product or service so you know people who enter the contest are interested in what you’re offering, and not just what you’re giving away.
But! A word of caution: there are rules about how you can do this within Facebook’s guidelines, so before you jump in because this is such a great idea, make sure you understand and follow the rules. You can do it the wrong way – and some companies do. But they risk having their accounts shut down and that could be a bad marketing outcome indeed.
Choose A Management And Scheduling Program
Sure, you could sit in front of your computer and wait for 1:00 when it’s time to post your lunchtime update. Or race to your desk to get the 9AM post out. But it would much better to schedule your posts ahead of time, which not only gives you the freedom of actually leaving your chair once in a while, but lets you plan a marketing strategy and post updates relevant to that plan.
There’s no shortage of programs out there that will let you schedule updates, and as a bonus, you can also use them to schedule updates to other social media outlets like Twitter, LinkedIn and more. You can even use them to research and monitor other conversations for mentions of your company, products or services. Most of these programs have a free version, but you’ll probably want to spring for the couple bucks a month for a paid subscription, which often gives you access to additional features and multiple accounts.
With a plethora of options, from HootSuite, to Sendible, CoTweet and others, there’s no reason to post real-time updates to your account, unless you want to.
Buy An Ad
Why not use Facebook to advertise your Facebook page? It’s some of the most targeted advertising you can do. You control the budget by setting a maximum spend and choose an audience that best hits your target. Show your ads to people based on their gender, age group, geography and interests. You can even market to fans of your competition.
Ads can help you advertise your page, special offers and contests. Of course, you can run ads on Facebook that take people directly to your website but try not to get caught in a strictly ROI mentality. Some people feel that if they aren’t leading people directly to a sale, they can’t measure the Return on their Investment, and the ad is meaningless. After all, who cares how many fans you have if you aren’t making any sales? It’s true that there is no immediate ROI on an ad that asks people to Like your Facebook page, but consider these two very important facts:
- It takes more than one “touch” to make a sale. Most research shows that it can take as many as five or more customer contacts before a person is comfortable enough buying from you. Even driving people directly to your website has a good chance of not producing a sale.
- Once you have a Facebook fan, you can market to that person repeatedly and consistently, which gives you a much better chance of making the sale eventually.
Hire A Professional
I know, it sounds self-serving, so I’ll keep this short and sweet: sometimes it pays to have someone outside of your company look at your marketing from a fresh perspective and help you plan ways to improve it. Sometimes it pays to have a professional execute your plans because you’re busy and you need your precious time to run your business. And sometimes it pays to have a professional who has studied the ins and outs of marketing, knows when to play by the rules (think contests) and is dedicated to making sure you’re using the tools at your disposal in a wise and effective way.
Using Facebook is marketing, but you still need to market your marketing. In much the same way that nobody would sign up for your email list if you didn’t entice them (or at least show them how), people won’t magically become fans simply because your page exists.
You can only use Facebook to its marketing potential if you have the fan base to market to. At a minimum, you should display your Facebook page link in every conceivable place – on your website, on your brochures, on your business cards, in your emails. Every communication with customers should have that little blue icon and the address.
Running ads is one way to market the page, but there are plenty of other ways to do it.
- If you’ve got a Twitter account, let followers know they can also find you on Facebook.
- Try using AdWords to send people to your page.
- Run an email campaign centered on gaining fans.
- Print special Facebook “Favicards” and include them in your direct mailings or leave them on the checkout counter at your office or retail location.
And for heaven’s sake, get your friends and family to Like your page! I’m always shocked to learn when people haven’t even asked their spouse, best friend or golf buddy to Like the page. Talk about low hanging fruit. Let the people around you become your marketers – it’s free, and too easy not to do.
There’s a lot of potential in your Facebook business page if you take advantage of it. So think beyond the Wall and make your page a true branding and marketing experience. A little planning and innovation will go a long way.
How are you using your Facebook page? Do you have any unique experiences to share?