Wednesday, 27 May 2009

facebook business action plan

If you're interested in promoting your business with facebook, this gives you an excellent step by step guide for getting started.

If you have any questions on it or want any further advice, please comment or send us a message.



To create a business page go here http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php


Set up a Profile

The amount of information you include in your profile is up to you, but the more
you put on, the better idea people will have of who you are. Users will most
likely scan your profile before accepting a friend request, so if they like what
they see, they’ll be more likely to accept. People respond well to humour,
positivity, and sincerity on Social Networking sites, so bear this in mind.
If you already have a profile, you will need to separate business from social
friends. This allows you to send emails, etc, to distinct groups. Go to friends,
then make new list, and divide up friends.

Privacy cannot be set for lists, but can be for individuals by going to privacy
settings. Individuals can then be prevented from seeing certain areas of
your profile. If you’re using facebook purely for business, this is not a worry, but
may be otherwise, as others apart from yourself can post photos and comments
on your profile.
The problem with limiting users views is that it may appear that you have
something to hide, and part of the social networking ethos is that you share
details of your lives. Because of this, it is best to not be too private. Monitor the
content that is posted on your profile and if you feel it really is inappropriate, you
can always delete it.

Friend Acquisition

Increasing the amount of friend you have is possibly the most important aspect of
the process, and friend acquisition should always be ongoing. You can never
have too many friends!

Your best friends will be those that you can establish and maintain
relationships and dialogues with, but this is time consuming, so the number will
be limited. However, a second tier of friends that you may never regularly
converse with is still extremely valuable. Your actions will still be displayed in
their news feed, so they will have awareness of you and what you do. They may
participate in surveys you post, join your groups and pages, or recommend
friends.

Get into the habit of adding friends whenever you login. It can be tedious to
add large amounts, but five a day will soon swell your ranks.
There are ways and means of adding lot’s of random people very quickly, but
there are much more targeted methods which will yield far greater results. The
main way to find relevant friends is by searching through groups and
pages associated with your industry.

Type a keyword related to your industry in the search box to the top right of
the screen. This will then display appropriate people, pages, groups, events and
applications. It’s a safe assumption that everyone within these will be interested
in your industry to some degree, so start adding them.

Clicking on a persons name or picture will bring up a box allowing you to add
them. At this stage you can allocate them to one of your friend lists and you can
also add a personal message. You can just go ahead without a personal
message and will get requests accepted, but there will be a higher success
rate if you include a message, by way of an introduction. The more
personalised the better, but copy and pasting a generic message will make the
process a lot quicker and is still very effective.

Try and be as honest and sincere as you can in these messages, and indeed,
at all times on facebook. It won’t take much for you to blot your copybook with a
friend, and if they delete you, they’ll be unlikely to accept you in the future. Worse
than that, they may actively market against you, posting negative comments in
groups, etc.

People will be unlikely to respond to your requests immediately, and your
message may not be as effective as you would hope. Therefore, it’s a good idea
to test a number of messages on limited groups of requests, say five
messages on groups of ten. You can then filter the less effective messages,
honing the group down to say one or two that get you the best results.
If people reply to your request with a message or comment, do your best to
answer them, and as quickly as you can. This initial contact can come to nothing
apart from that all-important first impression, but may be the starting point of a
useful relationship.

Remember you can promote your social media activities off-line as well. Integrate and include your facebook marketing in your advertisements and off-line marketing.

Research

While trawling the groups and pages for friends be observant and make notes.
Look at what the pages and groups are doing, especially those that seem to have
a lot of interaction from users and have lots of members. These are the most
successful and what you will be aiming for when you come to create groups and
pages.

When you come to create a page, you are able to add applications in order to
promote interaction. Note which applications pages use, especially those that
have high levels of that all-important interaction. Creating a community can be
a great asset for a page, so if there are applications that are encouraging
members (or fans as they’re called on facebook) to interact with each other, note
them down.

Also make notes about what fans and members are saying. Pay attention to
the tone and content, as at some point you will want to join in and knowing the
lingo will be really helpful. You may notice, for example, that there is little pitching
going on. In general, never pitch on social networks, unless someone actually
asks you to. As with real life networking events, never ‘sell to the room’.
While you can take ideas from what others do, bare in mind that your success
may come from doing what they don’t do. If you can offer an enjoyable or
interesting experience that they can’t find anywhere else, users are likely to
flock to you. Keep in mind while researching that there may be a trick that
everybody has missed.

Create a Page

You can create a page straight from the off, but once you’ve familiarised yourself
the various relevant aspects of facebook, you may find that what you initially
thought was a great idea, just doesn’t fit and is essentially useless. Rather than
waste your time, it’s usually best to wait until you’ve conducted research and
found your feet.

Once ready, go to ‘page manager’ to the top right of your profile home page, then
‘create page’. On the next page choose the type of business that best suits you
and give your page a title. This may be your business name but this isn’t
always the best option and for reasons discussed later, choosing the right
name is very important. Because you’re looking to attract fans and create a
resource and community, something more generic may be better, for example,
Public Relations Help Center. You can create multiple pages, so it may be an
idea to have one named after your business and others that are more generic.
You can always delete pages later, and until you’re feeling confident you can
achieve some success, you may not want to launch with your business name if
there’s a chance the page fails. The best option may be to find your feet with
a generic page that has no direct association with your business, as there
is then no risk of damaging your brand.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be taken to what is essentially the skeleton of your
new page. The page will contain default applications, some of which may be of
little use or relevance, but you can remove most of these by clicking the
cross/delete icon in the top right corner.

To add content to your page, click on ‘edit page’ toward the top right. Here you
put all your research to good use. Bearing in mind the aspects incorporated by
the successful pages you’ve found, populate your page. There is also an option
to browse more applications, where by using the search option you can find
those used by the other pages you’ve seen or try to find one that does what you
require. New application are added regularly, so keep checking back for new
ways to improve your page.

Try as much as you can to make your page attractive, interesting, and if
possible, entertaining.

Promoting your Page and getting Fans

There are many ways to get people to view your page and hopefully, become
fans. Facebook is so versatile that people are coming up with new and innovative
ways to do this all the time and you may come up with some of your own.
Facebook provide a pay per click advertising service, similar to google
adwords, that can advertises and links to your page, but obviously there is a cost
involved. If you would rather invest time than money, try the free methods before
resorting to this.

Firstly, make the most of your friends. You can send a group email to your
business list of friends, so let them know that you have created a page and
invite them to be fans. Briefly summarize all the great things they will find on the
page and what they can expect in the future. Perhaps offer an incentive to join,
such as a prize draw, and present other benefits they will receive, such as
useful advice and information. Hopefully, because this list has been selected
from people who would be interested, you will get a reasonable uptake.
This is where the viral nature of facebook may start to come into effect. The
friends of every user who joins will be informed in their news feed. Say you made
100 friends in your initial friends harvest. 50 of those join your page, each of
which has 50 friends, which means that 2500 people have now been informed
that your page exists. A proportion of these may be intrigued to see what page
their friends have joined and look themselves, possibly join, and before your
know it your fan numbers start to grow at an exponential rate.

This is obviously the ideal scenario, but this is why the name of your page is
important. Your page name is all that will be displayed in the news feeds, so it
has to make as much impact as possible, encouraging people to find out more by
visiting your page.

Your friends will also be informed of your actions in their news feeds, so interact
with your page yourself. Post articles, comments, videos, etc, that you believe
will attract attention. As always, be informed by what you have seen to work on
other pages.

Those other pages are the next way in which you can attract fans. Start
interacting on the pages, asking and answering questions, starting discussions,
and doing all the other things you’ve seen that provokes responses from those
pages fans. Those you interact with may offer friend requests or you may request
them, then you can direct them to your page. Others who view the page but that
you haven’t directly conversed with may also see your comments and request
friendship.

The option that may give you the most new fans on your page is to post a direct
link to it on other pages, but be aware that this may be risky. If you do nothing
but post links it’s likely to be seen as spamming, may get you a bad reputation,
and may be deleted by the page administrator anyway. Again, your research
should pay off here. If you’ve found that other people are posting links, there’s
most likely no problem for you to. You can also simply ask the page administrator
if they mind. However it’s always a good idea to post more than just a link.
Make a contribution first so that you don’t appear mercenary, and also to
demonstrate the quality of content people will find on your page.

A page can also become a fan of another page, which can work in the same
way that a link exchange does with websites. Contact the page administrator and
ask if they would like to become a fan of your page, in exchange for yours
becoming a fan of theirs. A link to your page will then appear prominently on their
page and yours.

Further Actions

Detailed in this plan are the basics to effectively launch and promote your
business on facebook, but there are many more techniques and strategies to
take it further. The functionality of facebook is so broad and varied that the
list of different ways it can help your business is around the same length
as a piece of string. Search Google for how other people do it, and don’t be
afraid to try your own ideas. As facebook is a relatively new platform, just
because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Even those who
claim to be experts don’t have all the answers.

Facebook is an ever-evolving platform, with new components for the social and
business sides being incorporated regularly. New techniques and strategies
emerge with these components; so if you find that you are enjoying facebook,
and especially if you find that it is having a positive effect on your business, try to
keep up to date with facebook news. You might find that if you pay attention to
what’s new, you might have an original idea for how to promote your business
before any of your competitors, or even before any other business on the
network.

Other Social Media Websites

Obviously there are only so many hours in the day and fitting in the time
necessary to glean results from facebook may already be difficult, but if possible
additional sites should also be used as part of your social marketing
strategy.

You may find that specific sites suit your purposes, for example, if you want to
promote your business through video, setting up a Youtube channel would be a
good idea, but two sites that are generally appropriate for most businesses are
Twitter and LinkedIn.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site, which means that users post short (up to
140 characters) blogs or ‘tweets’, which are delivered to subscribers, either
through the actual site or via SMS, RSS, email or other social networking
sites. The post can also be made via these methods.

Within a business Twitter can be used:
• To answer client and prospect questions and queries.
• To inform clients of developments in your business, such as new products
or services.
• To identify client or prospects needs, by monitoring their tweets.
• To conduct market research amongst your subscribers by asking
questions.
• To communicate between staff members.
• To notify followers of your blog / social media site updates

Obviously if you have no subscribers, then Twitter is of little use, so how do you
get subscribers?

Firstly include links to your Twitter wherever you have an online presence,
such as on your website or facebook page. Explain the advantages of
subscribing, such as the points listed above.

Contact all your existing clients and ask if they would like to subscribe,
telling them the benefits. You may find that some are unaware of Twitter or how
to use it, so it could be helpful to find an online guide that you can point them to.
As with all social networks, one of the best ways to get subscribers, is to
interact on the site. You can browse other users tweets by clicking on
‘Everyone’ to the right of the home page, but this will only bring up random,
general tweets. It’s better if you can find tweets relevant to your sector, so click
on search at the bottom of the screen. Search on a few keywords associated with
your business.

Have a browse and if you find any questions that you can answer or any advice
you can give, do so. This may start a conversation with that user, who may
subscribe if they like your responses, but more importantly, their subscribers will
be informed of your conversation. If they find it interesting, they may subscribe
too, or start a conversation, which in turn informs their subscribers. In this way
your subscriber base can grow exponentially, exploiting the viral nature of
the site.

Interaction is the key to success, so make this part of your ongoing
strategy, no matter which sites you use.

LinkedIn is a Social Network aimed squarely at business. As with facebook,
you can create a profile and populate it with details about yourself. Unlike
facebook, the information you enter is centred around your professional life, with
fields for current and past employment, education, experience, key skills, etc.
Your profile is essentially an online CV.

As with facebook the aim is to make lots of friends, called ‘connections’ in
LinkedIn, and to raise awareness of your expertise in what you do, by
interacting with users. To add connections you can use the search function to
find specific people or people within a sector by entering a relevant keyword. You
can also browse groups via a link to the right of the page, but unlike facebook,
you have to join a group before you can see its members.

One of the main ways to start interactions is via the ‘Answers’ section,
which you can find the link to at the top of the page. Users post questions
here, so you can search for those relevant to your industry and provide answers.
This can start conversations with the ‘asker’ and is also viewable by other users,
so if your advice is good, others may contact you. You can also submit your own
questions for others to answer

Again like facebook, there are many other ways to promote yourself on
LinkedIn, and new functionality is added regularly. Pay attention to what
other people are doing, google for hints & tips, and keep up to date with
new developments.

2 comments:

  1. Pesky facebook. Thank you for letting me know. I have placed the guide inside the blog post now

    ReplyDelete