Facebook is all about making connections. It is an easy and fun tool to reconnect with old friends or meet new people with common interests or common friends. It is also designed to help share content between connected people. This makes it a perfect tool for a business to communicate with existing customers and attract new ones.
To better understand the power of social networking, make a list of all of your professional contacts. Now make a list of each of those contacts' friends and contacts. This is the group you can potentially reach through Facebook.
A business's Facebook presence begins with a Facebook page. A page is the central home for a business entity. It serves as a place to notify readers of upcoming events, provide contact information or hours of operation, share recent news or topics of interest, or share photos, videos and other media content. A Facebook page is similar to a member profile – becoming a fan of a business's page is similar to becoming a friend of a member. From a marketing standpoint, becoming a fan of a business is similar to becoming an opt-in subscriber.
Unlike members' profiles, pages are completely public. This means that Google and other search engines will index these pages. This can increase a company's search engine ranking, especially if you get a vanity URL on Facebook that includes your company name in the address. Another difference between a business Page and a member Profile is that members can only have 5,000 friends. A business Page can have unlimited number of fans.
Pages are interactive. They allow a business and its customers to converse. This provides an uncensored feedback tool for learning what customers want and need.
There are five components of a company Facebook page:
- Wall: As with a member profile, the wall is the main component of a Facebook page. The Wall is where your company and your fans can post notes or upload photos, videos, links or other content. Wall postings will display on your page's fans' News Feeds.
- News Feed: The News Feed shows all of the wall postings that have occurred on your page.
- Status Updates: A status update is a short message up to 160 characters in length that will appear on your fans' News Feeds. Social updates can be used to push out marketing messages.
- Discussions: Fans can start conversations related to your business, and other fans can post follow-up comments.
- Applications: Applications are available to customize your Facebook page. Not all applications will work on a business page. Some good applications to consider include RSS feeds from your favorite blogs to virtual business cards. To see what applications are available, choose Applications -> Browse More Applications on the navigation bar on the bottom left corner of the screen. Click Business in the left column to get a list of applications that can enhance your business. Be careful not to over do it! Only choose applications that provide value to the viewer or which layout your brand in a positive way.
There are three categories of Pages:
- Local: Local pages are intended to create a strong presence in a local marketplace. For example, an independently owned pizza shop has no need for global branding, but a local page would be perfect.
- Brand / Product / Organization: These pages are intended for national businesses or organizations.
- Public individuals, like artists or bands: High-profile public figures or celebrities would benefit from these types of Pages.
The main use of Facebook pages is further promote your company's brand. This often depends on the viral power of Facebook. Fan participation can create a stream of News Feed stories. These stories can channel new fans to the Page and also create word-of-mouth awareness of your company.
The challenge is to get fans to contribute to your page. Social media marketers are constantly trying to come up with new ways to interact with customers and encourage them to post stories of share links.
Businesses are slowly coming to understand the value of Facebook in connecting with their clients (or fans). It is the perfect platform to market to other members because of it rich ability to send news stories to your fans. And the best part is, it is free!