As Facebook has become an incredible online community (more than 100 million users in Europe) and has shifted from being not only a social network for personal use but also as a key platform and medium for brands online, businesses have started to look into spending more time hanging out and engaging with their fans and users, in a legit way.
But businesses are still trying to get the hang of this new opportunity to bring in customers and, at the end of the day, make more money.
For many businesses, Facebook is seen as something for college students, graduates, and technology early adopters. The reality is that Facebook users in the 35 and older category are growing at a very fast rate. In Europe this category represents 28% of total active users, growing very fast as you can see on the chart below per O’Reilly Research report published last August.
One of the reasons Facebook is so interesting for businesses, is because it has a variety of features that are focused on community building and sharing information with users. There are several ways to participate on Facebook: personal profiles (private), pages (public), groups and applications.
Whether you are participating for fun or on behalf of a company, creating a profile is the most basic thing you can do on Facebook and is required if you want to do anything else such as create a fan page or a group. So you should work on building your personal profile before starting any other efforts on Facebook (a full profile looks much more interesting than an empty one). This will give you the opportunity to learn what works for you and what doesn’t, while participating as an individual, rather than potentially jeopardizing your company brand image. Watch this funny video (in English with French subtitles) for a better understanding on the Facebook manners.
And, please do not create a personal profile for your company. This looks weird. Facebook profiles are designed to be private. It makes it difficult for users to interact with your company. A better way to have a company presence on Facebook is to create a Facebook page.
Facebook pages are publicly viewable, and have many of the same features as profile pages, but with information that is geared toward your company’s activities. Facebook pages offer a unique opportunity for your company to engage consumers, users, providing viral hooks to recruit new fans and recurring opportunities for existing fans to re-engage. Fan pages are very easy to manage making regular contributions to your community rich and simple. Some features include creating content, sharing status updates, posting photos and videos, hosting events and built in analytics.
Here are few tips for building a great Facebook page:
1. Create an awesome landing page. It is as important as if you were to create an ad for your brand. Don’t neglect this part. Make it unique and build it to get found.
2. It might be good for your landing page to have some call to action and engaging content so to get new fans hooked immediately. Lets face it, Facebook users love contests, giveaways and promotions.
3. Provide value, i.e. engagement, entertainment or education (pick one, two or all three). If there are two things that can quickly destroy your reputation on Facebook is spam and poor quality content. If the quality of your page is poor and the value it provides low, fans and visitors will leave your page and will never return. The more engaged your fans are with your Facebook page, the more successful your Facebook (and social media – see tip #5) presence will be and the more likely future fans to join (i.e. more consumers = additional ‘potential’ sales).
4. Let users (consumers, customers, team members, partners, suppliers) generate content such as uploading (and tagging) photos and videos by giving them incentives to do so. Your brand will have an extra layer of interaction around it, giving more life to it and extending your reach by featuring your users personal newsfeeds. Publish yourself ‘fresh’ content.
5. Network with other social networks (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc…). Many companies lack in doing this, expecting their fans (consumers) to find them automatically. More often than we think, a consumer will stumble upon your page, either through a friend, a blog or from another network.
6. You may want to consider using Facebook applications, a great way to collaborate, network and do business through your page. There are Facebook apps available for everything (more than 52,000). The most common ones are the RSS Feed application to incorporate your blog or news feed and the Twitter application to incorporate your tweets (30+ apps for doing Business on Facebook by Mashable and here in French).
Then, once you have done all this, you may want to run some Facebook Ads, driving more traffic to your page, targeting potential audiences using keywords.
So, if creating a Facebook page is simple, getting it to work well takes time, dedication and some planning. Don’t expect to turn traditional marketing on its head in just a click.
Several companies out there seem to get it. IKEA is one of those. In a couple of weeks and with minimal investment, IKEA got people actually engaged with the brand and also got them to promote it to their friend (read article here and watch the video).
Other examples of Companies Using Facebook Fan Pages Well.
There are many ways to maximize your Facebook Page. If you have other ideas or tips to share that you’ve found effective, I’d like to hear about them. Please let me know by commenting below, or connecting with me on Facebook.