The golden rules of using Facebook for business

By: Ken Builder

Date: 16 July 2012

Facebook - Like/Unlike{{}}Barely an hour goes by these days without some multinational brand desperately appealing to you to ‘Like’ them. Admittedly, this is on their Facebook page rather than them wanting to join you for drinks, but with an estimated 845 million global users, Facebook popularity for a business is now directly linked to its turnover.

But is Facebook just another marketing domain to be exploited by corporate heavyweights or can it work for new business just as well? The answer is no and certainly yes – if you do it right.

Creating your page

When creating a Facebook page for your new business, make sure the basics are covered:

  • Great visuals – a picture prompts a thousand Likes. Make sure the visuals demonstrating your new business are strong and attractive. No holiday snaps (unless you’re selling holidays).
  • Call to action - Place a clear call-to-action graphic in the landing tab, this will help getting more "Likes" from your visitors.
  • Check your competitors – Look at what other businesses/competitors are doing with their pages. Mimic the good and mind out for the bad.
  • Make sharing easy - Add an "Invite Your Friends" Box to your page enabling your visitors to instantly choose some of their friends and send them invitations to your page.
  • Make purchasing easy – If you’re selling products online, constructing your page to be a one-stop shop for customers to interact, engage and buy.
  • Join your forces – To maximise awareness and interaction of your new business, link your website to your Facebook page and vice-a-versa.

Finding customers

Your idea is formulated, product/service offering ready, logo designed, website constructed and Facebook page created. All you need now are customers and the beauty of using a ‘social network’ to find them, is that, if you’re already a private Facebook user, you very likely have a good-sized network already that likes you.

For anyone starting a new business, you must use all the tools you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you out and give your new product a try. Why does this work? Because those people with whom you share your life story on Facebook already trust you. There’s no target audience to build. No reaching out to other people in your niche, trying to gain recognition. Your friends will support you. They’re your friends, after all and if they ‘like’ what they see, then suddenly your new business reaches the eyes of their friends and so the social network beings to do what it does best – to network.

Getting engaged

Once your network is up and running, don’t bombard people with constant, well-worn sales pitches but rather engage them with your insight, offers and industry expertise.

  • Create a resource – By including well-sourced and relevant industry information and comment on your page, followers will come to recognise you as a lot more than another shop or service provider.
  • Interact with your customers – Whether it be offering discounts, reacting to customer comments, requesting comment on new product lines, initiating light-hearted debates or posing thought-provoking questions, engage your followers and they will readily spread the message of your business.
  • Handle criticism carefully – Remember, Facebook is an open forum, so any negative comments posted on your business Facebook page by disgruntled customers must be dealt with ‘in public’. Problems that are seen to be being dealt with swiftly and compassionately reassure potential customers. Never be tempted to delete negative customer comments – it will invariably come back to bite you.

To Facebook or not to Facebook?

 A well-executed social media strategy can offer you the chance to engage with untold numbers of potential new customers and provide them with a valuable insight into your business ethics and character. When it comes to consumer decision-making, the importance of these factors should not be underestimated.  What you are meticulously cultivating is that illusive animal - consumer trust.

We all buy from brands we trust. Maybe we trust that they will give us the very best value, or perhaps we trust that they know more about what looks good to wear than we do, but we buy from them, and return to them, because we have, for one reason or another, formed a positive association with what they stand for. So if your new business is almost ready for launching, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to create your Facebook page.

Ken Eden is MD of WebEden, an independently run, London based, web Software Company.

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