22 Ways to Market with Facebook, Part 2

August 9, 2010

By Matt Michel 

A lot of people limit the use of the popular social media site, Facebook, to personal, non-business activities.  If you work in a cubicle for a Fortune 1000 corporation, that’s fine.  In fact, given big company paranoia that might even be a smart career decision.  But if you work for, or own a small business, it’s a mistake to miss out on the Facebook phenomena. 

Here are the next 11 ways to use market your company with Facebook…

Continued from Part One

11. Change your status
You should update your status regularly.  Ideally, update it daily, but don’t update it just to update it.  Tell people something interesting, thought provoking, or useful.   It may be as simple as stating the expected high or low temperature for an air conditioning contractor. 


12. Deliver useful content
Facebook has a lot of add-on games that are extremely popular like Farmland and Mafia Wars.  If you aren’t playing them, the notifications and invitations can be extremely annoying.  While users can shut down notifications for each application, it’s all too easy for users to end up shutting down all notifications from the user, and not the application.  This defeats your ultimate purpose for using Facebook.  Unless you can block all notifications to your “friends,” it’s best to avoid these applications.

If you want people to pay attention to your wall posts, post useful information.  As a rule, if it’s all about you, it’s only interesting to your mother.  What can you post that’s relevant to your customers?  Here’s a few ideas…

• Links to articles about the community

• Links to articles about homeowner tips

• Interesting pictures from the field

• Links to uplifting stories or videos

• Links to your blog

• Odd insights or different ways of looking at the world

• Favorite quotations


13. Avoid controversy
Is your community divided over a particular issue?  In my town, we have several controversial issues.  One is whether the town should allow drilling for natural gas in the Barnett Shale.  I think the opposition is a bunch of spoiled Luddites.  Every other community located over the formation is benefitting from drilling (e.g., mineral rights checks to property owners, tax revenue for the town, and jobs).  The energy companies are going out of their way to minimize the impact of the drilling, which lasts less than two years.

If you haven’t figured it out, I’m pro drilling.  As a user of natural gas, I think it would be hypocritical to be anything else.  Yet, if the residents of my town were my prospects and customers, I would keep my opinion off Facebook.  If I expressed my feelings about drilling, the energy opponents would never do business with me.  The extrinsic value of their green is worth more to me than the intrinsic value of my venting.

If you really feel the need to vent about controversial issues, visit the Free Republic (conservatives) or the Democratic Underground (liberals) and rant all you want.  As a business owner you should keep politics and controversy off Facebook.


14. Be human
The other side of mixing it up over politics is speaking with an inhuman, sterile, corporate voice.  Facebook is SOCIAL media.  You should be real.  This helps people get to know you better and form stronger relationships.

People who are my Facebook friends get to see pictures I’ve taken from travels around the world.  They’ve witnessed the majesty of Mont Saint-Michel at twilight, the serenity of the Colorado Rockies during a snowstorm, the geometry of a beach boardwalk separating sand from grass, the reflection of Parliament in the Thames River at night, the strange and beautiful light dancing off the sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon, the joy of a pair of young Parisian lovers on the banks of the Seine, the ghostly feeling of an empty New York subway station, the radiance of the Eiffel Tower in moonlight, the calm white sands and blue skies of Cape San Blas, the magnificence of the sculptures adorning the cathedral in Chartres, the loneliness of an isolated lighthouse on the Pacific coast, the beauty of my oldest daughter trying on a Mardis Gras mask, the dizzy view down a spiral staircase in the Versailles palace, the simplicity of an old man knitting caps in Istanbul, the stark beauty of a surprise snowstorm on the first day of Spring in Flower Mound, the love and sadness of a father hugging his newly married daughter, the rich color of the Sierra foothills in Spring, the glory of a sunrise over Monterey Bay, the lush color of Spring in Washington, the humor of people walking on their words on a sidewalk in San Francisco, and many more. 

By allowing people to see the world as I do, I open myself up and reveal my humanity.  Share your hobbies with your Facebook friends.  Let people get to know a little about you as a person.


15. Interact with friends
Again, Facebook is SOCIAL.  Be social.  Interact with your friends by commenting on their posts.  Remember, it’s okay to be human. 

Your comments will be visible to the friends of the person making the post in their news feed.  Your friends can find it by clicking on your profile, and then clicking on to see the comments you recently made on other people’s posts.  Few people are going to do this, which means you can be a little less restrained in your comments on an out-of-town high school buddy’s Facebook wall if you want.


16. Embed coupons
Monrovia, California contractor, Kevin Shaw, makes outstanding use of Facebook by posting coupons when work slows.  The coupons make the phone ring.  Because of the immediacy of the Internet, you can post them and get a same day response.

At the Service Roundtable, we’ve been preparing Facebook coupons for our members.  Gabe Wade messaged me about it.

“Looks great,” he said. “For the little effort it takes we have made our first sale off of face book!”

To get double value from the coupons, make sure your privacy settings are transparent.  Then, share the Link to the coupon with Twitter and by email.


17. Take pictures of customers
Whenever possible, take pictures of your customers.  The ideal time is following an installation or project work.  With permission, post the picture on your company fan page.  If the customer is a Facebook friend, tag them in the picture (i.e., associating a person with a picture).  The picture will show up on the customer’s wall and appear in their pictures so you should be sure to caption the picture appropriately (e.g., “John Doe is enjoying a new, tankless water heater, installed by Your Company – YourCompany.com.  The installation took half a day and John will never run out of hot water again.”).

If you hold an open house or customer appreciation day, be sure to grab lots of pictures.  Identify as many people by name as possible and tag them after uploading the gallery to your fan page.  Each tag should mention your company, the event, and your website.

Tagged pictures are even better than Links or updates.  Since people often look at the pictures of new Facebook friends, many will see your picture long after the wall post has vanished.


18. Ask customers to take pictures to post on your fan page
What’s better than taking a picture of your customers for your fan page?  Getting your customers to take their own pictures to post on your fan page wall. 

Offer your customers a gift certificate with your company, or even a popular restaurant gift card, when a customer takes a picture of himself standing next to your work (e.g., condensing unit, pool, water heater, faucet, landscape light, standby generator, solar panel, etc.) and uploads it to your company fan page wall.  Be sure to ask the customer to tag everyone in the picture.

Alternatively, you could give customers company t-shirts and make the same offer if they take a picture wearing the shirt in front of a landmark while on vacation.  It may not be something I would do, but I know others who would.  Ron Harris, for example, took a picture of himself in a “Fuzzy’s Taco Shop” t-shirt in Jerusalem, in front of the Dome of the Rock.  Harris uploaded the picture to the restaurant’s Facebook wall with placement of the picture on the restaurant wall as the sole incentive.


19. Ask questions in posts
To improve the interactivity with your Facebook friends and company fans, ask questions.  Leyl Master Black at SparkPR wrote in the company blog about the improved response from questions.

According to Black, “At the DigiDay: Social conference this month, social media marketing application developer Fan Appz highlighted an example of how a simple question can boost engagement. One of their customers — a leading video content provider with over 300,000 Facebook fans — routinely posts videos on their Facebook Page. The company found that when they paired videos with a question, video plays jumped by a whopping factor of 7 to 10. This simple yet effective strategy also generated 100 times more Facebook media impressions, as people posted videos to their walls in the context of their response to the question.”

At the Service Roundtable, we’ve noticed that wall posts have a much greater likelihood of making everyone’s Top News feed if others comment on the post.  Since the Top News feed is the default seen when logging into Facebook, getting included in the feed increases your exposure dramatically.


20. Create events and invite friends
One of the first uses of Facebook was for college students to throw a party and invite friends.  To facilitate this, the site allows users or fan pages to create events and then invite friends to the event.  Events draw more attention than wall posts because Facebook flags these until users take a look at them.

What kind of event could you hold?  How about a special sale on an upcoming date?  How about home shows?  How about charitable work, such as company food drives?

My cousin operates the Taqueria Poblano restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia.  Every Monday is “Margarita Monday.”  Thus, every Monday could be a Facebook event where the event invitation is a reminder to the fans and friends. 

In the service trades, a plumber might create “Faucet Friday.”   There are no limits to the events you can create.


21. Host a referral week
Will people refer your company to their Facebook friends?  We gave it a shot at the Service Roundtable with “referral week.”  We made it an event, invited friends, and asked them to invite their friends.  We also created a referral card photo people could share with their friends. 

We learned two things through referral week.  First, members and associates of the Service Roundtable will refer us to their networks.  Your customers, family members, and friends will probably refer your company as well.

Next, we learned that user familiarity with Facebook varies greatly.  If you want someone to refer you, tell how, step-by-step.  Sharing the event invitation didn’t work nearly as well as sharing the photo (i.e., a jpeg).  It’s easier for people to share a photo and we were more precise.

During referral week, we gave contractors an incentive to try the Service Roundtable.  It wasn’t huge, but it worked.  With little effort and no expense, we picked up half a dozen new members.

While half a dozen new customers won’t make your year, it does represent plus business.  If you’re like me, you can use all of the plus business you can get.

The average Facebook user has 130 friends.  If you can get 10 employees, family members, friends, and customers to share your referral information, that’s 1300 people (minus the overlap) you’re reaching.  If 1% forward this to their friends, that’s another 1690 people you’re reaching (1300 X 1% = 13, 13 X 130 = 1690).  You can see the potential if you include the right offer.


22. Advertise
The Service Roundtable’s COO, David Heimer noted that Facebook appears designed with advertising in mind.  Whether by plan or happenstance, Facebook is a platform for advertising.   The ads are still relatively inexpensive and you can set budget limits like Adwords.

Facebook’s advantage is the advertiser’s ability to segment and target.  You can serve your ad to a tight geographical area with your precise target demographics and interests.  You can even exclude fans of your company fan page so you aren’t paying to advertise to people who already know about your company or whom you can reach for free with the fan page.

There will never be a better time to advertise on Facebook.  As more people discover Facebook advertising, the bidding for ads will rise.  Today, it’s still cheap.  Give it a try.

 

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2010 Matt Michel

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