With more than 500 million users, Facebook is a veritable goldmine for small business owners. However, many find that they don’t get an increase in sales or brand awareness despite investing a great deal of time and effort. In many cases, this is due to not using Facebook effectively. As with many types of marketing, there are rules that make Facebook and other social networking sites more effective. Here are five basic rules that will help you use your Facebook account to build your business.
Set up a custom welcome page.
You aren’t on Facebook to make friends, so your wall shouldn’t be the first thing visitors to your site see. Create a custom welcome page that will guide customers to finding the information they need either on your Facebook page or your company website. The Facebook Help Center has instructions for doing this under the category “How do I change the default tab?” You don’t want customers to stop at your Facebook Wall, but rather to use it as a stepping stone to your official webpage or your actual locations.
Consider Facebook a form of customer service.
In a way, Facebook is like an extension of your customer service department, one that is available 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Encourage customers to communicate with you through Facebook, using it to ask questions and to get more information about products and services. If certain questions come up repeatedly, you can even design a FAQ’s section addressing them once and for all.
Take user comments seriously.
Many business owners discourage comments or even turn off the function. However, there are good reasons for leaving it on, even if you get the occasional negative comment. Facebook offers a chance to interact with your customers, and turning off comments negate the whole point. Many customers will have greater respect for your business if they see you deal calmly and constructively with complaints.
Facebook offers several functions that can be very useful to a small business owner. First, Facebook Places allows customers to “check in” with your business and creates a higher awareness of where you are located. Another useful function is Facebook Events, which allows you to publicize events such as sales and promotions. You can even have people register for the events so you know about how many people to expect.
Don’t spam people.
Even people who are fans of your business won’t want a constant barrage of marketing messages and wall posts. Instead, keep most of your posts light and fun with the occasional informative link. Be very careful about sending messages, especially about promotional events. If you need extra publicity, try putting up pictures of events and “tagging” customers, or making friends with other business owners and cross-promoting. Avoid mass messages at all costs; they are annoying and likely to be ignored. In fact, you may find that pushing the marketing edge too aggressively leads to a substantial loss of fans. As with all marketing methods, Facebook requires a delicate balance.