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How to use Facebook to promote your business

With Facebook predicted to reach one billion!! users by August 2012 that is a lot of potential customers! As many users openly display their interests, you would have thought that Facebook would be heaven for marketers.

In reality, very few companies are successfully exploiting the channel to promote their business, and many of those have big budgets. So why and how should an SME or start-up think about Facebook as a marketing channel?

Forming a Facebook fan page is often viewed as a fantastic way to engage with the public, and if you do it right it can be hugely successful.

Coffee chain Starbucks has more than 26 million members on its Facebook fan page, and is by far and away the most successful brand on Facebook. But for small businesses the challenge is that much harder as they don’t enjoy the same level of brand awareness. For example, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of Facebook fan pages have less than 1,000 members.

Why do it?

So why should small businesses form a Facebook fan page? Creating a Facebook page provides the opportunity to directly interact with potential and existing customers. 850 million users – and growing – simply cannot be ignored. Some of these people will be in your local area and they may be searching for your product or service.

As well as a way to sell and generate brand awareness, Facebook groups provide a free way to carry out market research – you can poll your fans, gauge their reaction to ideas before you implement them.

Content is Key

The clincher when it comes to attracting and retaining Facebook fans is what you offer them. There is an infinite amount of interest groups that Facebook users can join, so you need to make yours stand out from the herd. Most groups probably fail to reach 1,000 members because they fail to offer compelling content and, worst of all, do not interact.

So, think of video, audio, blogs and other interesting content that would appeal to your target audience. You can then use tools such as ping.fm or your blog RSS Feed to syndicate that content with minimal manual input your end. Have a look at car hire firm Zipcar’s Facebook page to see how innovative content has helped a small business generate a following of nearly 70,000.
Most of all, it’s a community, so INTERACT!

How promote it?

Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve from your Facebook page, what content you’re going to offer, who’s going to manage it and how often you’ll be updating content and interacting with customers, you need to think about how to attract people to your page in the first place.

Start small – friends, friends of friends, customers. Provide links on your homepage to click through to your Facebook page, offer discounts and other benefits exclusive to Facebook group members. Of course if you have a physical location it can pay to promote your Facebook page at the point of sale, on packaging, in the window or even on your signage. Your popularity will spread virally, so don’t expect Rome to be built in a day.

Assess where you are after one month, two months etc and think about how you could better promote the site if you’re not hitting numbers.

Talk to us today about this growing opportunity.

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