Facebook’s news features make it a great business tool.
Last March Facebook enhanced the ‘fan’ pages that a brand, product, organisation, artist, band, public figure – or a business – can create. (See www.facebook.com/pages/create.php). The new features enable even the most technically challenged business owner to create, maintain and update what is essentially their website – easily, immediately, and from a phone or computer. And it’s free. I’d like to share my marketer’s vision of what you can do with a Facebook business page.
First let’s distinguish between a profile and a business page:
Facebook profile: Simply put, this is your private visual online chat room. You invite whoever you want to allow in. They’re called friends. Only friends can view and interact with your profile and vice versa.
Business pages: These, on the other hand, are open to anyone registered with Facebook to view. Individuals can maintain a relationship and interact with your business page by signing up as a fan. (See www.facebook.com/advertising/Face bookPagesProductGuide.pdf).
Calling it a page is a misnomer, because you can have many pages. Like websites, the pages are tabbed. A sample of the standard page tabs are:
- Wall – for comments by you and your fans.
- Info – all about your business and your products.
- Picture and video pages.
- You can also add pages such as newsletter sign-ups, products, and services.
Okay, okay. You can’t do online transactions yet, as you can on a purpose-built website, but look at the phenomenal benefits:
- It’s free – no domain, hosting, web design or maintenance costs.
- It’s easy – in normal web 2.0 fashion it is easy to fill in the details and upload pictures.
- It’s upgradeable. A little nervous about the initial setup? Want to add in a few of the advanced offerings? I’ll share my secret. I use Student Job Search (www.sjs.co.nz) – a fabulous source for cutting-edge, knowledgeable, quick, inexpensive assistance as often as you need it.
- It’s growing day by day. Statistics from Facebook’s website show it has more than 250 million active users; half of them log on at least once each day; more than two-thirds of users are not at university, with the fastest growing demographic being individuals aged 35 and older; more than eight million users a day become fans of pages; and 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States. It’s interactive. Normally, websites are one-way: you pushing information out, you loading new content. With the pages, your clients (um, I mean your fans) can write on your wall what they think of your product or service and post pictures of themselves with it, and send links to colleagues. Clients can also load testimonials.
- It provides statistics. Each business profile comes with graphically rendered statistics of page views, unique page views, wall posts, etc. It gets searched, so Google and other search engines find and list your pages. When you have more than 100 fans you are allowed to customise the web address of your tabs. Instead of Facebook.com and a long string of numbers and letters, you can have www.facebook.com/YourCompanyName.
- It offers add-on applications such as videos (how nice not to have to use YouTube), slideshare, business cards, telephone and conference calls.
- There are mobile phone updates. It’s not just the iPhone; many smartphones have an icon to take you straight to your Facebook account for catching up, editing, commenting, or uploading pictures. Interaction via cell phone is significant and business-changing. It replaces the barriers of time, effort and procrastination with the immediate, quick and easy.
- Use photos. This is where the explosion of clever thinking and creativity can transform what was a vehicle for social photos to practical business use: product pictures, examples of work you’ve done, oh my goodness – even an online catalogue.
Come take a look at my Facebook business pages at www.facebook.com/debbie.mayosmith.motivational.speaker (sign up as a fan). Then create your own. The return on investment for your time can be enormous.