It’s hard to believe the number of people who still ask me if they should be using social media for their business. Although there are certain businesses or industries who may benefit less from social media the vast majority of businesses can benefit greatly. Aside from developing brand awareness, many businesses can actually generate leads and/or drive traffic to their website. However, social media is not something you do in your spare time or if you have a minute here and there. A strategy needs to be set and it needs to be part of your larger sales and marketing strategy. A great place to start is with Facebook and LinkedIn. I am going to focus on Facebook in this article.
Once I was at the U.S. Chamber Small Business Summit and heard a presentation by Rita Fabi, Facebook’s manager of Market Solutions, Global Customer Marketing & Communications. She’s responsible for educating small and midsize businesses about Facebook products. She shared a link to the Facebook Pages Manual which walks you through setting up your fan page so it’s fast and easy. Once you’ve set up your page she recommends you build your audience and engage them.
So how do you build a Facebook audience and engage them as part of your sales and marketing plan? There are 3 keys to developing a successful Facebook strategy that will help you increase sales.
Connecting is the first step. The best way to connect with people is to know them as a person first. This means you need to friend them with your personal profile. People these days want to know the owner of the business. They want to know the people who work there. Many people tell me they only use their Facebook page for personal stuff. That is a choice but if you want to have a social media strategy that works for your business, part of that is letting people know you. There are many settings that will allow you to share things privately with your friends and family so you don’t have to share them with everyone. Or another option is to have an alternate personal profile for business where you share things you don’t mind everyone knowing. The idea is to share a bit of yourself with others and to comment on what they share.
Start by friending your family, friends and current customers. A way to help insure people will accept your friend request is by using the “add a personal message” feature and writing a personal note rather than just sending a friend request. This reminds them of how they know you so they’ll feel more connected. Next, spend time getting to know the people you friend by reading their page, clicking “like” when you see something interesting, and commenting periodically. This makes it more likely they’ll “like” your business page when you suggest it. I don’t like when people ask me to “like” a page when I don’t know the owner and they haven’t bothered to get to know me first. I really don’t like when people I don’t know send me a friend request for a profile that has been set up for a business. Aside from being an improper use of the platform it doesn’t give me a chance to know the people behind the business and it doesn’t give the business the best results. I like to support businesses but I want a chance to know something about the owner or some of the people who work there. This leads to another important point, which is that you need to put as much information into the appropriate fields as possible.
Does doing all of this take time? You bet it does, just like it takes time to meet people for coffee or attend a networking event. But you can network with a lot more people in a much shorter period of time online. However let me state clearly that online networking does not take the place of networking in person, which can give you better results if you follow up by connecting online as well.
Connecting is more than just friending. It’s engaging in conversation, posting questions & responding to their answers, as well as answering questions others ask. Interact on a personal level so people get to know you and you get to know them.