Sunday, November 15, 2009
How to Market Your Business With Facebook
By KERMIT PATTISON
Business owner, you might want to friend Facebook.
A growing number of businesses are making Facebook an indispensible part of hanging out their shingles. Small businesses are using it to find new customers, build online communities of fans and dig into gold mines of demographic information.
“You need to be where your customers are and your prospective customers are,” said Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era” (Pearson Education, 2009). “And with 300 million people on Facebook, and still growing, that’s increasingly where your audience is for a lot of products and services.”
For most businesses, Facebook Pages (distinct from individual profiles and Facebook groups) are the best place to start. Pages allow businesses to collect “fans” the way celebrities, sports teams, musicians and politicians do. There are now 1.4 million Facebook Pages and they collect more than 10 million fans every day, according to the site.
Businesses can easily create a Web presence with Facebook, even if they don’t have their own Web site (most companies still should maintain a Web site to reach people who don’t use Facebook or whose employers block access to the site). Businesses can claim a vanity address so that their Facebook address reflects the business name, like www.facebook.com/Starbucks. Facebook pages can link to the company’s Web site or direct sales to e-commerce sites like Ticketmaster or Amazon.
Facebook offers an array of tools and networks, and it’s easy to wander down too many paths. Ms. Shih recommends that newcomers start by asking themselves a simple question: What is your basic objective? Is it getting more customers in the door? Building brand awareness? Creating a venue for customer support? Once you have set your goal, you can strategize accordingly. READ