These days everyone has heard of Facebook. Over the past few years it has grown at a phenomenal rate and now has over 800 million active users worldwide. Originally started as a way for university students to keep in touch, the site now covers every age group - it's likely even your gran is a member!
With this rapid development has come new opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers. Facebook offers an innovative way for customers to keep in touch with developments on their favourite brands and for businesses to keep their customers informed about offers, competitions, promotions and general news.
This opportunity is not just for the big brands such as Coca Cola and Nike. Local businesses can create their own presence on the site by creating a page which members of Facebook can then 'Like'. When a Facebook members 'likes' a page, they'll see updates posted by the business in their news feed. There's also the option to allow fans to comment on the pages' wall and post their own photos and videos, if appropriate. The business can control most aspects of the page to allow as much, or as little, interaction as they want. However, because Facebook is a social site it is recommended to permit as much interaction as possible.
How do I get started?
It's easy to create a page for your business, and it's free. To get started go to facebook.com/pages/create. From here just select 'Local business or place' and enter some basic business details. You'll then be guided through the process and be able to create your page in just a few minutes. Once you've created your page you can also set a username for it to make the address more memorable. By default the web address for the page will be long and difficult to recall; with a username it can be set to your business name (if available). Your Facebook page would then be accessible at a more friendly address, such as facebook.com/StatementAgency
How do people find my page?
The next step is to promote the page. You can do this initially (and for free) by posting a status update in your own personal Facebook so your friends can find the page and 'Like' it. You can also promote it through other social networks such as Twitter. In fact you should promote your Facebook page on every piece of marketing, from emails to signage.
Keep it fresh.
Make sure you're posting content to keep your fans informed. Post photos of new products. Share videos from YouTube that are related to your products or services. Post links to web sites that you think your fans would like. In addition, you can also post details of your new products, offers and promotions. However, do this in a controlled way - your fans don't want to see their news feed spammed with plugs for products and deals. If they do they'll quickly 'Unlike' you! Contributing on social networks can be a great way to raise the profile of your business, engage with your customers and ultimately increase your sales.
We work with many of our clients to use social media sites like Facebook as a really valuable marketing strategy, have a look at how we can use social networking sites to help your business!
Image credits: With thanks to Simon Steinberger.