Facebook is a tool to connect and share with friends, family, and others in your various networks. It was started in 2004 and has since evolved from a site that was exclusively available to college to students to a worldwide social network with an audience where 50% are not college students and the fast growing demographic is the 35+ year olds. There are millions of current Facebook users and many more are signing up each day. You may have already known that, but did you know that it can also be used as a tool to get “free advertising”? Well, it can, and when used correctly, it will.
Facebook has become increasingly popular not only among individuals but also among businesses. The reason for this recent boom in Facebook and other forms of social media is because there are no time or space constraints and everything can be much more public for everyone to see. So, it helps businesses grow their network and ultimately “meet people and start conversations”. Many online consulting firms refer to this as the “online cocktail party”.
The first step in building such a network, though, is to create a business page. While you may already have a personal profile, you will want to create a business profile to support your business. The main reason for this is that Facebook has a lot of tools/options built into the business profiles that you will not be able to get with the personal profiles (such as analytics to see how much traffic you’re getting to your page and where that traffic is coming from). If you do have a personal profile, though, you will most likely want to tie that to your business profile.
Another big difference between business pages and personal profiles are how people add you to easily keep up with what you’re doing. Pages get “fans”, which only require the users to add themselves as a fan and involves no interaction on your part. This helps you build your network naturally and easily. Personal profiles, however, get “friends”. After someone adds you as a friend, you then need to accept them in order to allow them to view your profile and other information. If your business network is large (which hopefully it will be), you will not have time to go through and add all of the friends that request you.
Like many of the other social media / blogging type sites, your success is based on how well you take advantage of the give and take relationships that must be made. In the case of businesses, there will be quite a bit of giving in order to take away a new customer. However, the tools available on Facebook allow you to easily connect with your customers and engage them in your businesses and its doings. This will, of course, create a “community around your company”. That community will make it easy for you to obtain the ultimate goal – free advertising!
Once you have developed an online community of “followers”, it will be relatively easy to get the word out when things change in your business. For instance, if you introduce a new product/service offering and your Facebook “fans” catch wind of it, you can expect the majority of them to spread the word to their friends, family, etc. You may even find your fans are reposting your content within Facebook and further “advertising” what you announced. This form of advertising did not cost you anything. So, you have natural buzz about your product/service. Additionally, customers are more likely to trust natural buzz as opposed to marketing speak.
After creating your business page on Facebook, you want to remember to post interesting and informative content. Your job here is not to be a sales person. Your job is to post things to help people better understand your products or services, provide tips, or unravel a concern within your industry. In doing that, you will find yourself positioned as a natural resource and your network will begin to look to you as the go to person in your industry. In turn, you have built trust and those customers will more easily turn to you to utilize your products/services when needed (or wanted). That’s how Facebook (as well as other social networks) can be used to get free advertising.