Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ask An Expert: Focus On Facebook To Boost Business

Ask An Expert: Focus On Facebook To Boost Business
Q: We all hear so much about how Facebook is good for small business. But is it really? If so, how? Who would sign up to be a "fan" of my small business? — Sherri

A: Yes, Facebook really is that good for your small business. How you take advantage of it is up to you.

Let me give you an example, and then show you how to grow your business using Facebook.
Chris Meyer owns a solo wedding photographer business, CM Photographics. Chris decided to try placing some ads on Facebook for his business, and since one of the great things about advertising on Facebook is that it allows you to directly target your ads to your desired demographic, Chris chose women and men aged 24 to 30 whose relationship status on Facebook was "engaged." Over the course of a year his $600 ad campaign generated almost $40,000 in revenue.

Such success is not surprising when you think about it. Facebook is where the eyeballs are. Consider how fast it took these different media to get to the 50 million user mark:

• Radio – 38 years

• TV – 14 years

• The Internet – 4 years

• Facebook – less than a year
Today there are more than 300 million Facebook users. So that is the first way to get Facebook to work for you –advertise on the site. Like any good online ad campaign, advertising on Facebook

• Allows you to target your market specifically

• Choose pay per click or per impression, and

• Quickly and easily modify your campaign based on results.

But that is just the start. For example, Red Mango is a Frozen Yogurt shop with stores throughout the country, opening its first store in 2007. Yes, CEO Daniel Kim advertises on Facebook, but it is what he does after that that is valuable for us to know. The Facebook ads drive people to the Red Mango Facebook site. Last year, Red Mango had 4,000 fans. Now it is over 100,000. They have so many fans because their Facebook site is interactive, useful for fans, and has good content:

• Quality is more important than quantity on their Facebook page, and they only post things that would are of interest to their customers. For instance, they learned that "company news" is not compelling content and so don't post it.

• But $1 off coupons are popular, as is the

• Free $10 gift card contest, and

• So are the videos and articles.

So building a fan page is a great way to use Facebook for your small business, and if you offer great content, and have an identifiable brand, you will get fans. One way is to share their stories on your site – why do they like your business? How did it help them? Solicit stories and post those stories.
Also check out adding Facebook Widgets to your site. Facebook Widgets allows users who like your content to easily share it with their friends on Facebook. Check out also Facebook Connect, which allows you to link your Facebook profile and friends to any website. When fans share your content they will click back to your site.

Another way to promote your small business on Facebook is by joining and interacting with relevant Facebook groups. A group gives you the chance to post content that 1) helps the group, and 2) builds your brand. Even better: Fresh content keeps you in front of both the group and the "recently updated" group pages. And as people in the group get to know you, your fan base will increase.

I recently saw a story about a woman starting a new business who, prior to getting started, joined a few groups pertaining to the industry. A few months later, as she got started, she posted a request for people who would be willing to be on her virtual board of advisors. She revived more than 50 offers from top people in the field.

Or how about the business that offers a secret password on their Facebook page? Fans can learn it, use it, and get a free cupcake.

No, a boring 'ol page won't grow your business on Facebook, but an interesting, interactive one, full of compelling content, and with ads driving people to it, will.

Today's tip: The great site Mashable lists several ways to get more fans:

1. Link your page to other platforms – your Twitter account, blog, etc.

2. Offer valuable resources on your page.

3. Create contests.

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com.And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website.

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