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The marketing potential of Facebook is huge, but many companies struggle to devise a strategy that’s suitable for such a social platform.
But there are more than 400m active users of Facebook, meaning whatever your product or service, there’s a huge potential market there.
So, how can you use the platform to promote your brand? Here are some of the ways marketers can approach it.
Make a Facebook page
Let’s start with the most obvious; do you have a Facebook page?
Since the website began inviting users to ‘like’ business pages rather than ‘become a fan’ of them, it’s much less intrusive and people seem to be far happier about this slightly more subdued way of showing their approval.
If you’re marketing a lively brand or product, don’t make do with a dull standard Facebook page, make your landing page lively and interesting.
Promote your page offsite
Don’t expect your potential fans to find you on Facebook without a little support. Add a ‘Find us on Facebook’ button to your website, email marketing communications and even printed brochures, so that people know you’re on there.
You may disagree, but I think that having a Facebook page shows that a brand is interactive and personable. So, even if people don’t bother looking you up, they may be left with a better impression of your brand.
Make your page interesting
What are you going to do with your Facebook page? Will you post deals, links to blog posts, competitions, notes, photographs of your corporate summer party (guilty!)?
You need to add content to your page so that your fans have something to interact with and so that they see your brand in their news feeds, building brand awareness.
Have a clear content strategy before you start building the page, otherwise you could suddenly be left scrambling for something to say.
Have a clear idea of what you want people to do
What are you hoping to achieve with your Facebook page? If it’s just brand awareness then you want content that people will interact with on the page. If you want to get fans to click through to your site, you’ll need links to offers and exclusives.
If it’s to create brand advocates, you need to create applications and games that people will share with their friends.
If you don’t know what you hope to achieve, then you won’t be able to create appropriate content.
Use Facebook ads
Will your marketing budget stretch to some paid Facebook ads? You can use keywords from people’s profiles to target your advertising at relevant demographics, (female friends who’ve become engaged tell me they see nothing but weight loss ads from the moment they change their relationship status!).
So, you can target people of a specific age, gender, educational level, workplace, even location.
It is a fairly cost-effective way to market your brand. You may even decide to use your advertising to drive people towards your fan page and give it a proper kick off.
Build a Facebook app
Can you create an interactive app? Some of the cleverest Facebook marketing is app-based, with the potential to turn viral and suddenly create enormous interest in your company.
You can build games, quizzes and other types of dynamic content that people will use and share.
If you don’t have the skills inhouse to create this kind of content, many business have sprung up that will develop an app with you to market your brand.
Make your content easy to share
Do you have a blog back on your website? Linking works both ways, you shouldn’t just be driving people to your site through Facebook.
In fact, you should also give people the opportunity to alert their Facebook friends to interesting content on your company website. Add a button allowing people to share the article on Facebook, as well as to Tweet it, Sphinn it, Digg it, Buzz it, or whichever your social platforms of choice are.
Make it as easy as possible for people to spread your brand message.
Create and interact with Facebook groups
Join some relevant Facebook groups and maybe even create a few. This will allow more people to see your brand, giving you the chance to build a fan base without paying for advertising.
Of course, this is a dangerous tactic if you’re a bit blunt. You mustn’t simply charge in and start trying to sell to people who are busy socialising. Instead, you should offer tips, support and advice, building confidence in your brand.
Is there a cause or campaign your company believes in? Maybe you’re a debt management company campaigning against payday loans, or a restaurant campaigning for more local food to be eaten in your town?
Create a group that promotes your cause and you’ll be able to interact with people who wouldn’t necessarily ‘like’ a brand but are very willing to support a campaign they believe in.
Give your fans exclusives
If someone has updated their Facebook page to show friends that they like your brand, you really ought to reward them.
Give them exclusive deals, sneak previews of new products, discounts – special offers to show you appreciate their support.
Use Facebook analytics
Having created a Facebook page, you need to need to monitor the success of the page. Facebook’s analytics tools allow you to see what kind of content works well.
Once you’ve created a page, you’ll be able to access this information through Facebook Insights, meaning you can see how people are interacting with your content, what demographics they belong to, which countries they are in, how many people have signed up, how many people have unsubscribed.
Make use of this information. It’s free and it will inform your developing Facebook strategy.
If you’re a marketing professional, it’s not just your business you can promote through Facebook – you can also market yourself and build connections with other people in your sector.
There are groups, discussions and a thousand other ways to connect. You can even have different settings for your work-related ‘friends’, meaning they never need to see that picture of you after 12 vodka shots…