Linking It All Up: Making Business Connections Through Facebook
In today’s high tech marketplace, using social media can make the decisive difference between a business that is growing and one that is stagnating. At the forefront of the social media scene, with over a billion users, is Facebook. While it may have gotten its start as a central destination for college students, today’s Facebook users come from all demographic groups. This makes Facebook a critical tool for any business looking to actively grow its customer base and build brand loyalty. Facebook offers a wide variety of possibilities for engaging customers over the internet. Try these tips for optimizing your business’s Facebook profile, and watch the returns roll in.
Use a Vanity URL
One feature of Facebook is that users can customize their URL, rather than using the randomly generated combination of numbers and letters otherwise assigned to profiles. Choose a simple vanity URL using your business’s name. This will make it easier for potential customers to find your business’s Facebook page. Make sure to add this URL to all of your company’s advertising communications, such as business cards and newsletters. You want everyone who works with your business to be reminded to check out your company’s Facebook page.
Create a Landing Page
When businesses think about Facebook, many erroneously believe that all Facebook pages look the same: contact info, a few links, and that’s about it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. One way to draw customers to your Facebook page is by creating a landing page or welcome screen that appears to any new visitor. Your landing page can invite users to like the page and often offers them an incentive for engaging, such as coupons or entry into a contest.
In addition to offering promotions, a Facebook landing page can also be graphically interesting, displaying a well-designed advertisement or other image, for example, rather than just the usual Facebook skeleton. Once customers like your page, they can then move on to the more typical Facebook structure, displaying your posts and business information. But that first incentive to engage with your page is important – once customers “like” your page, they subscribe to your posts, integrating your business into their individual Facebook experience.
Gather Customer Data
Another feature that can be added to a business Facebook page is a customer information form. Just like a form on any other website, a Facebook form can allow customers to enter things like their demographic data, email, birthday, and phone number. This kind of information can help businesses get a sense of who their audience is and can also be used for other business promotions, such as birthday coupons. Customer data is extremely valuable for understanding who your business is reaching and better targeting your outreach and advertising.
Do you have photographs of your staff at a company event? Or of satisfied customers using your product? Sharing relevant business photographs on Facebook is a great way to build your brand. Informal photographs help to make your business seem real and friendly to potential customers. Invite customers to submit photographs of themselves using your product and make sure to capture company events on camera, like holiday parties or office birthday celebrations.
Play The Expert
One thing that your business should absolutely be sharing on Facebook is industry insights. Post links to articles about innovations in your industry to demonstrate your engagement with the field. Your Facebook communications do not need to all be explicitly about your specific business, but should reflect the position of your company in the larger marketplace. Posting this type of information also encourages other businesses to engage with your Facebook page, not just individual customers. In the same vein, “like” the pages of allied businesses to create a larger picture of your company’s place in the industry.
Facebook content can come in a variety of different forms. Some of it, like links to relevant articles, is produced by people outside of your company. The majority of the content on your business’s Facebook, however, should be company specific and created by your company. Post short updates daily or every few days that tell customers what your business is doing. Did you just get a shipment of a new product? Are you collaborating with another company? Are you offering a promotion? All of this should be shared as status messages on your Facebook.
Another type of content to focus on for your company’s Facebook page is blogs. Publish blog posts at your main website and link it to your Facebook. This allows you to share longer form information about your business and can help redirect customers from your Facebook to your main website. By engaging customers in multiple online forums, you increase their familiarity with your business and make potential customers more likely to become actual customers.
What’s a widget? A widget is a tool that can be embedded in your web page to increase functionality. Companies like ShortStack offer widgets for you company’s Facebook page that can make it do an assortment of new and exciting things. For example, ShortStack offers a widget that can help your company run contests through your Facebook page. The widget allows your Facebook page to collect customer information so that you can choose a winner. But that’s not all widgets can do.
Widgets are great for improving the ability of customers to interact with your company’s Facebook page. ShortStack, for example, will not only help integrate YouTube, Vimeo, SoundClound, and more into your Facebook page, but will also offer a wide variety of ways for your visitors to engage with all of this media. ShortStack’s widgets are free for small business pages and cost as little as $15 a month for businesses with more than 2,000 Facebook “likes.” This makes widgets a low cost way to get a huge return on investment.
Integrate Your Social Media Presence
Another way to integrate your social media presence and draw in customer interest is by taking advantage of the different formats that each platform specializes in. For example, a customer might ask you a question on Twitter. Since Twitter is a short-form platform, try writing a blog post on your home webpage, answering the question. You can then link this blog post to Twitter, answering the question, and post both to your Facebook page. This may sound like a lot of steps, but in reality, combining your social media presence in this way will reward your business with much greater customer involvement.
Making The Most Of Social Media
Managing your social media presence is a critical part of running a business in the 21 and one of the great things about social media is that it is essentially a level playing field. Even the smallest business can have a dynamic Facebook presence with just a little time and effort. That means that whether you have 200 customers or 2 million customers, social media can benefit you. A strong social media presence can help to build brand recognition and loyalty, particularly because it puts a personal face on every business. With Facebook, you can treat every customer like a friend.