If you are like most people I speak with, you would answer like this:
“I have a profile and I have around 50 friends, mostly personal friends.”
“I’ve set up a page for my business, but I really don’t know what to do with it.”
Facebook only starts to work for your business if you commit to using it for business, and work to grow it. Correctly. Because of Facebook’s strong Terms and Policies, making sure you do things the right with is hugely important. The last thing you want is to build up a big following, and be shut down because you aren’t using it correctly.
First, learn the difference between Facebook’s three tools: Profiles, Pages and Groups.
When you first sign up with Facebook, you’ll start with a profile. Your profile is all about you; not your business, your product, or your service. Your profile is created by using your real first and last name. Then you fill your profile with your personal information. Add as much or as little as you like. But remember your profile is your window to the world. If someone is deciding on whether to do business with you, this helps break the ice and gives the opportunity to find something in common.
A Facebook Page, also called a Fan Page, is for businesses, brands, organizations, or celebrity/public figure. Your page is all about business, and is the one place you can actively promote what you do. When people become your “fan” they want to interact with your business and other fans of the business. They have a desire to learn more about you and what you do. It’s also a great way to gain more traffic to your website and blog by providing links back to your site, and an RSS feed from your blog. Unlike your profile, you are allowed to have multiple fan pages – we have one for VirtualPhotographyStudio.
Groups are formed by Facebook users around a common interest. For instance, we have a Professional Photographer group on Facebook that allows anyone with an interest in making money with their camera a place to go and interact with other like-minded people. You can start a group simply by going to the Groups application, and clicking on the “Create a Group” in the upper right hand corner of the page. You can build your friend lists by joining groups of interest to you, as well as designing one or two of your own.
From a business perspective, your fan page is the biggest way to get your message out. Just this week, Facebook changed the way you “fan” a page. Instead of becoming a fan, you simply hit the “like” button, and the stream from the fan page will be included in the feed on your wall. So anytime you make a comment, add a post, or take any action on Facebook through your fan page, the feed will be seen by everyone that is a fan or has “liked” your page.
You can’t grow your business with 50 or 100 fans. You have to think big. If you are trying to photograph 200 seniors this summer, you are going to need a pool of thousands of potential clients to communicate in order to find the 200 that will do business with you. So your goal is to be transparent, show people your personality, and have fun with connecting with people in your local community.
Facebook does have an advertising feature – if you understand Google AdWords, you are on track to understanding Facebook ads. Two thing differ between the two. First, Facebook is much less expensive than Google – at least for now. Because the advertising concept is new to Facebook, it simply hasn’t seen the traffic that is coming into Google. But trust me, it is coming. With over 300,000,000 active users on Facebook, more companies will be figuring out how to take advantage of advertising every day. They have amazing demographics that allow you to niche down as far as you desire.
And second, Facebook is far less salesy than Google. If you have ever used Google AdWords, your ad is all about getting the clicks. You make an offer to hopefully bring in a sale by appealing to a visitor in a variety of ways. Not so with a Facebook ad. Facebook won’t let you sell. They are looking for quality and building a relationship first. Because Facebook users have the right to determine if they like an ad or not (by clicking the like or don’t like button), Facebook is continually monitoring ads, and will suspend any account that consistently is reported in a negative way.
Let’s answer the “Why should I care about Facebook” question.
Because with well over 300,000,000 active users and growing, it’s more than a website; it’s a way of life. Facebook can easily be accessed on Smart phone technology, and is the home page of choice by millions of people. The younger the person, the more likely they will be using Facebook every day. If you see your client base in any of this, then you can’t ignore Facebook. People hate traditional marketing and advertising. They ignore ads, change the channel when the radio goes to a commercial, and no longer receive newspapers. The world is changing, and social is leading the way.
The only question now is “Will you be one of the forerunners finding new clients using Facebook?”