Facebook is a social networking site that gained popularity among college students and soon became one of the most used in the world. With 175 million active users, it’s definitely the place to be. Unlike LinkedIn and Xing, however, Facebook is a “social” networking, not “professional” networking site. This distinction is important for understanding how users behave and engage. People join LinkedIn to build professional contacts, find a job and network with industry leaders. People join Facebook to catch up with their college roommates, keep in touch with their family and stay involved in the lives of their friends. See the difference? So how does a business use Facebook effectively? To survive on Facebook, you must be invested in building relationships. Engage with the community and as always, provide useful information and resources.
There are four ways to use Facebook for business and the method you choose will depend on your type of business, as well as your time commitment. First, create a business page. This option allows members to become “fans” of your company. By doing so, your image is added to their profile thereby increasing your exposure and adding to brand recognition. You can also incorporate your small business blog feed into your profile, which auto-updates every time you publish a new post. Further customize your page with videos, photos and event listings. (Verizon, Nike Women and Red Bull are a good examples of highly customized pages.) The second way to use Facebook is by creating a group. For a group to be successful, you have to be committed to actively seek out and engage your members. Find issues your target audience is passionate about and build a group around it. Again, you can customize your group page much the same way you would do with your business page. The third method for using Facebook is specifically for non-profits. Using the Facebook Causes application, your organization can “recruit” members and solicit donations. Actually obtaining funds, however, requires proactively searching for members who are excited about your cause. The fourth use of Facebook for entrepreneurs is the only non-free tool, customized Facebook Ads. Upload an image, write the copy, choose when it displays and Facebook will make sure your message gets viewed by your target audience.
Jacalyn Barnes, SCORE
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