I often get asked by clients about using Facebook for business. “I know how to use Facebook, I have hundreds of friends and use it all the time,” a client said the other day. “I just can’t get my around using it for business.”
Think of Facebook as a cross between a blog and Twitter, where you can get a database driven real time streaming of user-generated content that allows sharing of links, photos, videos and much more. Then Facebook is a powerful tool for businesses to build community and collaboration with their audiences.
Perhaps you are a business which sells to other businesses (B2B) and want to influence end users and have them become part of your community. Briggs Equipment did this successfully with its ForkLift Heroes Facebook page .Following some research, the materials handling provider realised that if it could engage the end users, the actual drivers of the forklifts that it sells, it could help to reduce damage bills and increase safety in the workplace for its clients.
So it launched an integrated campaign, using trade and local press and online coverage, with the Facebook page being one of the ways that end users engaged with the brand. Anyone who signed up for the campaign, got a ‘Hero’ pack and you can see some of them wearing their t-shirts on the Facebook site. The hidden benefit of this campaign was that some of the company’s major national account customers took up the campaign as part of their own internal communications, to great success. Fans who join the page post pictures and even videos of their antics with Forklifts and what they are doing to care for them now they have their ‘hero’ packs from Briggs.
Target is a retail company that uses Facebook very successfully with over half a million fans on its page. It posts useful videos to help people shop, has an interesting college page and encourages open dialogue with its customers through its ‘Review’ page. It has customised its ‘Tab’ to include disccusions, video and College 09 to make its page more relevant.
Rather than just jumping on the Facebook-for-business band waggon, because you think it is trendy, you need to consider Facebook as a marketing tool. And like any marketing campaign, you will need to have a strategy for how you will use your Facebook page.
Consider the following when you are setting up your business Facebook page:
- Who is your target audience? and what are your objectives in trying to engage them?
- What apps will you use? Some to include are:
- Social RSS or networked blogs so that you can stream your blog and Twitter feeds into your Facebook page.
- Video apps – including Facebook’s own which is now pretty good.
- What is your objective? How many fans will you consider a ‘success’? How much conversation do you want to happen?
- How will you promote the page and encourage people to participate? A Facebook advert can sometimes help but there are many other ways.
Finally, like all social media marketing, you will need to be prepared for a cultural change. Facebook is about user generated content and letting your audience create copntent and participate with your brand or your company. So be prepared to loosen the reins on control!