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Marketing Like the Big Boys: Facebook for Small Business

A Quick Guide to Getting Started with this Essential Social Media Tool

Thanks to content marketing maven, Beth Hrusch of Interact Media for this great guest post.

Marketing your small business with Facebook sounds like a lot of fun and a great idea—until it hits you.  You really have no clue how to do it.  Sure you’ve heard of it, and people are certainly on board (some with remarkably good results).  But, getting started can be intimidating, maintenance is scary and how do you measure returns, anyway?

So, now you know how your parents felt when confronted with email.  Don’t worry.  One of the great things about social media for marketing is the fact that it gives small businesses some of the advantages once enjoyed by large corporations with big marketing budgets—namely, tremendous reach and measurable results.   And, you can play around with it until you find the way to use it that works best for you.  And it’s cheap.

If you want to start marketing your small business with Facebook, here are a few pointers:

Create your account

1. Start a business account by creating a Facebook Ad or Page.  A Facebook Page identifies your business, and you can opt for a description of your business type, your product or brand or your position.  Make sure to be accurate here, as this identification is how interested parties will find you.

A couple of things worth noting:  filling out your profile completely helps establish trust with people because it shows that you’re transparent and have nothing to hide.  The more open and honest you can be with your groups the better your results will be.  Also, read the Facebook rules for business accounts before going too far!  They can and will ban your account for certain violations.

2. Customize your settings. Here, you can control who sees your profile and who can contact you.  You can block users, join networks, set up email and mobile phone notifications of everything from posts to your Wall to any time someone tags you in a photo.

3. Install applications. Establish feeds whereby all of your groups and networks can see your latest blog posts and tweets (yes, you can integrate your Twitter activity into your Facebook page).  There are a lot of apps for Facebook that do a myriad of amazing things.  Facebook for iPhone 3.0, for example, lets you manage your account on the go with added features like integrated news feeds, Event RSVP and the ability to phone or text people directly from your Page.  A handy way to contact a client or update your page with new content for your customers while away from the office.  Post real-time notes and photos from your trade show or presentation as events are happening or get back to a client who contacts you through your account.

Share with others

When marketing with Facebook, the idea is to keep it fresh and updated with new content, photos, events, feeds and messages so that your network can use it to learn more about your business (see “maintenance is scary”, above).   A lot of companies have employees share the task of adding to the company Page, or designate one person as the social media administrator.  Whoever does it, it’s important to keep your presence on Facebook timely and relevant by posting information regularly.

Also, make it easy for people to check you out.  Try adding your Facebook URL to your email signature, business cards, or other company literature.  Upload email addresses to see who’s on Facebook so you can add them as friends.  Build your professional network using your common interests.

Networks, Fan Pages and groups

Joining a network or group brings you into contact with others who are either looking for your products and services or in the same or related fields.  Sharing resources and information with each other builds business relationships that often lead to sales.  It’s highly recommended that anyone marketing on Facebook join as many relevant groups and networks as possible, and engage with them regularly.

A Fan Page gives you a place to put all of your links, content, photos, company news and Events, so add to it so your fans and groups know what’s going on in your world.  Post some surveys, contests or quizzes every once in a while.  These are popular ways to engage fans and potential customers.

Getting measurable returns

For small business owners, Facebook offers a lot of tools that can help you expand your presence and increase brand awareness.  To see how your efforts are doing, start with Facebook Insights, a free service that analyzes metrics such as user actions, page exposure and behavior related to your Pages and Ads.  These analytics are one important piece of the puzzle when it comes to determining the growth of your pages.

Studying comments, quantity of new connections and how many times your brand is mentioned help you determine which conversations you should engage.  By putting all the pieces together, you can get a picture of how your social media efforts are affecting leads and sales.

Facebook is an economical marketing tool for companies of all sizes.  It allows small businesses, in particular, to take advantage of some very agile features in order to get the same results once reserved for companies with big marketing bucks.  Try it out and see what it can do for you!

Beth Hrusch is Senior Editor at Interact Media, a content marketing software company

Read the original blog entry...

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Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and BusinessNewsNow.com in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.

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