Don’t Miss an Opportunity: Understanding Facebook for Business

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Facebook for Business

Social media has taken a significant role in the marketing and operation of businesses in the digital age. This influence has been so profound that it has produced an entirely new type of marketing job in the form of a social media marketing specialist. Before hiring anyone to manage the social media for your company, it is important to have a basic understanding of the impact each social media community can have on your marketing efforts. In terms of Facebook for business, the key is to engage customers so that you remain at “top of mind” when the time comes to use your service.

Facebook is more about Branding and Customer Retention, Not Acquisition

It is important to understand when establishing a Facebook presence what your goals are. As any experienced social media marketing specialist can explain, each outlet has different uses in the marketing world, and Facebook is no exception. Many times, people think that if they set up a Facebook account for their company they will magically start getting likes, and their brand will simply explode due to all of the extra exposure. This is unrealistic.

Though Facebook will occasionally lead a customer to your company, and can be quite effective in that regard for certain industries, the simple fact is that the platform is not intended for businesses.  However, Facebook can work as a great tool to keep your business on your customers’ radar. By regularly posting updates, your product or service can stay fresh in peoples’ minds.

Your Only Expense is Time

Though there is the option to purchase Facebook ads, which can be very effective, the cornerstone of a successful Facebook marketing strategy does not require any paid advertising. The real keys to success are simple: keep a consistent voice and remain true to your brand, regularly make posts, and engage with customers. If your business is small, you may even be able to devote enough time each day to do this yourself.  If you can afford it, you can hire a company to monitor your account and keep your content fresh.

Ultimately, the key to success on Facebook is the same as any other marketing program. You need your message to stay in front of customers, and let them know that your value. By establishing this connection, you can help ensure that your business comes to mind when they need your service.

How My Favorite Coffee Shop Uses Facebook (and You Should, Too)

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Facebook management, when done right, really is an art. Small businesses that fully use all of Facebook’s features — along with the platform’s conversational style and ease of posting images — truly put themselves on a different level. Check out the Facebook page of some of your favorite local, indie haunts and I’m sure you’ll find one or two that is killing on Facebook and taking social media to another level. For me, it’s my favorite coffee joint that is truly inspiring me to be better at Facebook for business.

The Market, located in downtown Denver, has been serving locals and tourists kick-ass coffee drinks and mind-blowing pastries since 1983. The spot serves everybody from uptight businessmen and slacker students to artsy musicians and neighborhood families (and everyone in between). Yet somebody must have figured out that just being a local favorite isn’t enough, so in order to keep up with newer cafes, The Market would have to embrace social media. And embrace it they have. The Market is a community staple, so Facebook is the perfect channel for it to behave as such. More so than Twitter, Facebook can really be an instant way to alert customers about the happenings inside your company. The Market’s posts include lost-and-found belongings left behind at the cafe, updates on new menu items, deadlines for ordering cakes, hours of operation changes, chatty posts like celebrity sightings (Prince Henry was recently there) and witty observations from the baristas. In short, The Market’s Facebook page is as warm and inviting as the place itself. The focus on The Market’s Facebook marketing is less about a hard sell and more about talking to their customers in a friendly and approachable manner.

What this is, beyond being great social media marketing, is terrific and solid branding. The company’s message is the same online as it is at the counter. To offer a similar experience on Facebook as you do in person takes some real prowess and impressive skills and my favorite local cafe has it in spades. The Market has inspired me to be consistent and creative with my own Facebook marketing efforts. And mainly not to try to pound my followers with sales messages. As a brand and a social media marketer, I can chat with my followers and make Facebook visits more interesting and friendly.

So, readers, how does one of your favorite businesses use Facebook that really inspires you? Post below!

3 Essential Facebook Marketing Rules

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If your business is having a hard time making Facebook marketing work, take heart. Many companies, even many of the big guys, abandon Facebook efforts after a few months. The truth is this: Memorable Facebook-for-business campaigns take a lot of effort, creativity and time. The daily Facebook game can feel overwhelming, especially when even your best efforts are failing to yield results. Yet before you dramatically delete your page and log off of Facebook for good, here are three Facebook marketing rules that could change the way you use the social network.

Share: We’ve all ended up with “those brands” in our newsfeeds. You know, the ones who just blast us with boring advertisements and never really post anything worthwhile? The antidote to that is to share. Sharing cool images, relevant videos, important company milestones, new product photos and the like is far more interesting than just beating your followers over the heads with branded messages. Share the kind of posts you yourself would want to read and chances are your followers will want to read them, too.

Engage: “Engagement” is one of those buzzwords in Facebook management and marketing that we hear all of the time. And there’s a reason. Brands that can really get their followers engaged on social media have truly succeeded. Facebook posts that demand a response (like trivia questions or polls) get users involved, but that’s just the beginning. To dip your toes in the Facebook engagement waters, start with pictures. Photos are a simple and dynamic way to keep your users engaged. In fact, cool and talked-about pictures are 10 times more likely to go viral for a brand on Facebook than posts without images.

Interact: With social media, brands of any size have been given the golden opportunity to really reach out and talk to customers, critics and followers. Use Facebook to get consumers’ thoughts, to address changes in your business, to alert followers of last-minute deals and specials and mainly to find out what’s on their minds. Don’t have Facebook be a one-sided conversation. Use it as a tool to really get inside your followers’ minds and find out what is important to them.

 

Has Facebook Peaked?

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While we marketing types tinker away on our Facebook-for business-campaigns, the “numbers people” have discovered something sort of shocking about the world’s most used social network. According to a report in The Guardian, new users aren’t exactly flocking to Facebook anymore and growth has appeared to stall.

The Guardian explains the Facebook drop-off like this:

“In the last month, the world’s largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4 percent fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5 percent. The declines are sustained. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK. Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.’The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it,’ said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis.”

In other parts of the world, however, Facebook is still growing and folks are still signing up. In Brazil, for example, Facebook sign ups grew by 6 percent last month. Yet without significant growth in more developed markets, Facebook will have hit a glass ceiling. Social media experts are wondering if an inevitable “MySpace effect” is coming next for Facebook.

Can another hipper, younger and more dynamic social network knock Facebook off its perch? Perhaps, but for small businesses and mega brands alike, Facebook marketing is still valuable and worth our time. Sure, it isn’t the end of the digital marketing rainbow some once thought it was, but Facebook is a great tool for informing folks about your business and for engaging your customers and following. No other social network gives you the ease and access to so many people worldwide to talk about your brand.

But that’s what we think. You tell us: Is Facebook marketing still relevant or on its way to becoming extinct? Sound off below!

New Facebook Page? Rally the Troops!

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New_facebook_page_rally_the_troops!

At one point or another, all of us have been pitched a slick proposal from an alleged Facebook-for-business master that goes something like this: “I can get you thousands of likes and keep your followers engaged for a small price.”

(Insert the proper eye roll and “thanks, but no thanks” response here.)

Because even if a marketing ninja can wrangle us thousands of likes, paying for likes doesn’t assure that folks will stick around or even care about your brand’s Facebook page. Instead, we think going back to Facebook’s conversational, grassroots beginnings is the way to go… and who better to like your page than the folks who really like you in the real world?

It’s always surprising when clients come clean and tell us that they are unhappy with the number of likes their Facebook pages have received — and yet they haven’t attempted to market this page to the people in their inner circle first! Sounds strange, but it happens a lot. Maybe they’re afraid to “bug” their friends. Maybe they don’t want to mix business with social. Maybe the thought never crossed their mind. Who knows? What we do know is that when launching a business page on Facebook, it’s best to turn to the people who know you first before waiting endlessly for anonymous likes to just fall from the sky. The math behind this is simple: You have hundreds of friends and they have hundreds of friends and your employees likewise have hundreds of friends, too. Turning to this crowd of already friendly faces is an easy way to build a base of likes for your page. These are your friends, so don’t feel bad about “bugging” them. After all, they don’t feel bad about posting endless videos of their kid’s dance recital or telling you how they voted. Your friends actually like you (presumably) and should have no problem helping you get likes on Facebook, either.

Next, turn to that other valuable resource: your customers and clients. These folks already support your business, and chances are great that they’ll do so on Facebook, too. Let them know via email newsletters, in-store signage and on your website that you are on Facebook. In your page’s early days, entice them to like you with contests and Facebook-only discounts. Customers should use your Facebook page to get all of the information they need about your company, so make sure it’s frequently updated and filled with content they want to respond to.

The Facebook forest is a crowded and sometimes intimidating one. But with a little help from your friends, you can stand out, get noticed and even get liked.

Likes Done Right

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Not that long ago, Facebook marketing mavens were desperate to get “Likes.” The pursuit of likes for companies of all sizes became priority numero uno. Facebook management strategies for mega-brands and indie shops alike had likes on their minds and weren’t going to stop until they figured out how to be the most liked page on Facebook. Then we all kind of realized that likes didn’t always translate to dollars and moved onto the next thing. Yet likes for your company’s Facebook page are still important. The visibility a simple like brings to potential consumers is incredibly powerful. Why? Because each time a customer likes a brand’s page, it shows up in their friends’ newsfeeds, meaning endless potential for reaching out to new followers and consumers. We think you can (and should) still be on the hunt for likes, and here are some ethical, creative and even inspiring ways to get them:

The Maple Ridge Vet Clinic in Geneseo, Ill., for example, used some good deeds to get Facebook likes. Owner Dr. Matt Nelson recently called upon Facebook fans to help the local humane society. For every like the Maple Ridge Vet Clinic received on Facebook, Nelson pledged to donate a pound of cat food to a nearby animal shelter. Animal lovers couldn’t resist such a heartfelt promotion, so the clinic ended up with 150 pounds of cat food and The Maple Ridge Vet Clinic got more likes in the process, too. Nelson got likes for just being a nice guy. There’s a groundbreaking concept!

“Like lottos” are another good way to inspire more likes for your page. Authors can give away books. Theaters can give away tickets. Bakeries can give away cupcakes, and so on. Like lottos are easy to run — set a prize and give it away to the follower who is your desired number of like. Just keep it realistic. Facebookers won’t play if your goal is several hundred likes away. You want your followers to feel like they have a real chance of winning. Instead, go for 50 or under.

And yet you can have all the great giveaways and cool charity donations in the world and if your page doesn’t have good content, no one will care. Dynamic, frequently-updated content is still the best way to get likes. If you post interesting blogs, eye-catching images and unforgettable with regularity, there’s no question that your branded Facebook page will garner more likes.

The New Face of Facebook

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Perhaps you logged off on the 21st and didn’t see it coming. Maybe your family’s house is in the middle of nowhere didn’t have WiFi. Or maybe you got really lucky and took a few days off. Whatever the case may be, you might not have noticed the new look of Facebook. Yet, like any big star, after closer inspection, it’s clear she’s had work done. So the big question on everyone’s mind is this: Do these cosmetic changes make Facebook marketing even easier?

With a new timeline design already being tested, “Poke” getting poised to take on SnapChat and even your basic newsfeed pages looking a tad more organized and spiffy, there is no doubt Facebook was at hard work during the holiday season. Drag-and-drop photo boxes, the “what’s going on” status boxes and expanded tool bars are more signs that Facebook is determined to enter 2013 with a brand new attitude. While many of these innovations are fun and make Facebook easier, these changes don’t appear to be tailored for marketing professionals. In fact, it truly looks like Facebook is shifting its focus on monetizing its products and services. After the beating it took on the stock market this year, we can hardly say this is a surprise. From gifting options to easier-than-ever advertising settings, the business of Facebook appears to be getting down the business of making more cash. Naturally, this means Facebook is pushing companies of all sizes away from free Like page marketing and closer to paid advertising.

As the brand continues to grow up, Facebook is bound to keep morphing to meet the demands of the market, and its importance to marketers is bound to change, too. But what do you think, my social media mavens? Are we liking the most recent incarnation of Facebook or has the brand already overstayed its welcome? Sound off below!

The Purrrfect Facebook Marketing Scheme

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We comb the industry journals and insider blogs to get great ideas for Facebook marketing. Outside ideas that nail the platform are always welcome, because even though a billion or so folks use Facebook all day long, it isn’t always easy getting them excited. Nor are the marketing muckety-mucks always the ones cooking up the fabulous Facebook campaigns. For simple yet brilliant Facebook marketing, perhaps the family up the street is a better place to look.

A few months ago, the Urbano family was a house divided. Seven-year-old Remi and his 3-year-old sister Evelyn desperately wanted a cat, and while their mom Marisa thought it was a good idea, dad Dan wanted the family home to remain cat-free. After some negotiating, dad caved and came up with a compromise. He told the kids that if their cause could get garner 1,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook, then the family would adopt a cat from a local shelter. A long with some help from mom, the kids posted a photo of them holding a sign with the following message: “Hey Facebook! My sister and I really want a cat. Our papa promises we can get one if we can get 1,000 likes.” The Urbanos expected folks to be touched by the two kids’ plea for a feline friend, but they never expected that the darling duo would get their 1,000 likes in just two hours. The photo went on to collect more than 100,000 likes and the story made national headlines. More importantly, Remi and Evelyn got their kitty and saved a shelter cat’s life.

The amazing thing here is that this family’s Facebook campaign is totally on trend with the things we’ve seen work for big brands. Oreo, Levis and H&M all have had huge success with photo-driven Facebook campaigns. When it comes to brands, the ones that get talked about on Facebook are the ones with memorable images — and the Urbano family nailed it. The photo also garnered thousands of shares. Having your following like something is one thing, but having them like it so much that they share it is the kind of gold Facebook management gurus are eternally hunting for. Lastly, the Urbanos’ campaign knocked it out of the park by including a call to action. People responded to the Urbano kids not only because they’re cute, but because they get followers involved in the post by asking them to do something.

Whether it’s starting a conversation, posting a photo that segues into a “love it or hate it” poll or asking for Likes, photo posts that aren’t just passive live longer lives on Facebook. And in this case, nine of them.