Facebook Is an Awesome Tool for Business, but Only When Wielded Awesomely

With nearly 10 billion users, Facebook is easily the most well known social network in the world. If Facebook were a country with a seat at the U.N., it would possess the third largest population, behind China and India. And like China and India, Facebook (should we call it Facebookistan?) features its own unique customs and norms, and you need to understand and respect them so that you can capitalize on the site’s potential as a tool for promoting and expanding your small business. When I see local businesses faceplant on Facebook, it’s often because they don’t invest the time to understand Facebookistan’s customs.

Tread lightly

What makes Facebook so distinct among all social networks? It’s the fact people that use the site have strong connections with one another. Everyone is connected with their best friends, their immediate family members as well as their close relatives. They share intimate parts of their lives. Stuff like:

  • Birthday celebrations
  • High school graduation footage
  • Baby photos
  • Wedding announcements
  • Anniversaries

The upshot for business owners? They need to be conscientious and careful within their technique. You can’t use the old kinds of one-way, direct-response marketing on Facebook, since people aren’t there to listen to sales pitches. They’re not necessarily in a buying mindset. They’re in a socializing mindset. You have to respect that.

Keep it real (for real)

If you try to port the old style of marketing into Facebook, you will be disappointed. The natives will get angry and shun you. “With Facebook, marketers of any size can do effective, word-of-mouth marketing at scale for the very first time,” says Annie Ta, a Facebook spokeswoman. “But Facebook is all about authenticity, so if your company is not being authentic or engaging with customers in a manner that feels genuine, the community will see right through it.”

Don’t be fooled: It’s meant to be hard

Don’t be fooled by social media “gurus” who make ridiculous promises about effortless Facebook success. Social media is all about creating relationships and influence—and this requires time. Many organizations believe that if they set up a page on Facebook, that’s all they need to do. Marketing on Facebook is definitely an extremely effective way to reach local customers (we wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t). But here’s the rub: it’s also challenging (and rewarding) if you’re doing it correctly. The payback is well worth the investment in time and attention. Based upon a study from Social Media Examiner, nearly two-thirds of small businesses involved in social media say that Facebook has improved their overall marketing effectiveness, and 80 percent report forming new partnerships after just two years of participation.

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