Facebook, the global behemoth that was started by a couple of friends who just wanted to stay in touch, has gotten to be so popular that it’s almost single-handedly become the face of social networking. Although MySpace is technically older and a little bigger, and LinkedIn is more known and used in professional circles, Facebook is the one social media site that everyone – from your kids to your grandmother – is almost certain to have a profile on. That makes it an important part of your marketing mix.
I should point out that Facebook wasn’t really designed with marketers in mind. In fact, although they’ve recently begun some limited-scale advertising on the site, there is still an active debate about whether Facebook can profitably be used as a marketing medium.
We don’t have the definitive answer to that, yet, but we know that it’s a good destination for any social networking marketer for the same reason that big industry networking events are – having 400 million people around, and being able to join into their conversations, is never any be bad for business if you do it correctly.
And so, leaving the advertising aspect aside, here are four tips for making friends, fans, and profits Facebook:
Create the right kind of profile. Whether you are joining Facebook for yourself as a self-employed professional, or making a profile for the company you represent, it’s important to set the right tone early. Pictures of yourself in a suit and tie are just fine, and combining those with a couple of tasteful behind-the-scenes shots are even better. But numerous photos of you and your staff acting like sailors on leave sets the wrong impressions. The same goes for the descriptions you give of yourself or your team. Remember, more and more potential clients are looking up vendors on Facebook to get a little bit of extra background information. Make sure that what they find isn’t going to ruin your chances of getting the business.
Make friends with others. It’s very easy to connect with buyers, professional acquaintances, colleagues, employees, and anyone else who should be apprised of what’s going on with your company. Take whatever time you need to make a few good mouse clicks and generate a list of at least a few dozen friends and fans. Having a profile with only a few contacts doesn’t just make you look lonely – it defeats the purpose of social network marketing.
Be active. There’s a fine line between being diligent with your social media profiles and simply wasting time, but your accounts on Facebook and elsewhere are going to work best (in terms of helping you meet new perspective buyers) if you’re always adding to them. Take a few minutes a day to tell the world how you’re doing, what’s going on in your business, and so on.
Pay attention. Even more important is keeping your ear to the virtual ground. Once in a while, a message is going to come through Facebook that could be important to your company. Did one of your biggest customers just sign a lease on a new facility? Is one of your contacts thinking about changing jobs? These are the kinds of pieces of information you would probably eventually find elsewhere, but given the popularity of Facebook, and often shows up here first. And, as any good marketer knows, being the first one to present a solution to an upcoming situation or dilemma can pave the way to an easy sale.