Facebook can prove to be a powerful business tool if used tastefully and maintained regularly.
In particular, Facebook’s fan pages, groups, and events provide powerful functions to help you promote your business. But how do you avoid making mistakes like that friend who creates an inappropriate event named ‘I’ve lost my mobile phone?
The fan page feature on Facebook is an appropriation of the MySpace approach to social networking. By establishing a fan page on Facebook, you are presenting users with a method of finding your organization and expressing their support of it by registering themselves as ‘fans’.
This approach has traditionally worked best for celebrities and bands, but could also apply to organizations that are conducting activities that expressly lend themselves to general public approval.
For example, the recruitment agency LaVolta produces a podcast series called Digital Bullets, which features IT and communications professionals discussing the implications of technological developments. Offering a free service that Facebook users might find genuinely beneficial and interesting makes it much more likely that people will be willing to pay micro-homage to your organization by clicking the ‘become a fan’ link.
Groups are a less sensational way to garner attention and build contacts for your business online. Rather than a star-fan relationship, groups are based more on the discussion of shared interest.
A vital aspect of choosing between a group or fan page is the ability to message members. Groups have a limit; if you have more than 5000 members, you can’t send messages to all of them. There is no such limit with fan pages.
A strong contact list is the essence of a successful presence on Facebook. Your professional contact list is a good place to start, but you’ll need more than that in order for your presence on Facebook to grow organically. Once you’ve established a page for your business, apply for a ‘vanity URL’ – such as www.facebook.com/youbusiness – that directs straight to your profile or group. Then let clients know you’re on Facebook by including the URL on business cards or in your email signature.
Once you’ve established a fan page or group and have populated it with members, you can start using it to promote your business.
The events function is a useful tool to spread awareness of your business and its projects, as well as consolidating your existing membership base. An event on Facebook needn’t correlate to an actual event. You can make an online event of the opening of a new aspect of your website, the commencement of a blog, or even the creation of your Facebook group. By inviting members to an ‘event’, you present them with an option to RSVP. If they choose to do so, their friends are notified and they can invite their friends to join. In order to encourage this, it helps to provide people with an incentive to join; what this incentive amounts to is up to you, but it could be the difference between having 200 members or 2000. #
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