Recently I asked a group of people to raise their hands if they were on Facebook. I was surprised that the whole group didn’t raise their hands, but some people just don’t “get” Facebook. I asked one why they didn’t raise their hand and they said that Facebook is just a big waste of time. Well so is reading, watching television, vacationing or eating dessert.
Saying that Facebook is a waste of time is completely accurate unless you’ve got a business to promote. Then it can be a critical part of your marketing program. But many business people just aren’t doing Facebook correctly.
Let’s start with a basic premise - Facebook is the prime time television of 2015. People basically go there to waste time and have fun. Isn’t that why we watched Seinfeld in the 1990s or Gilligan’s Island in the 1960s or I Love Lucy in the 1950s? Part of being human is choosing to waste some of our time on this planet doing something that is nothing but pure enjoyment.
That's the way to look at Facebook - as a channel for relaxation and fun that people enjoy as part of spending their "off" time. And that's important to keep in mind for the business owner looking to use Facebook as a promotional tool.
First of all, let’s talk about how Facebook works. Essentially, there are three primary ways of using Facebook.
Basic to all of Facebook is the personal page. Facebook wants you to use your own name to set-up this page. To access the other types of Facebook systems you will need a personal page. These are free, as are all aspects of Facebook.
Now, if you choose not to become involved with Facebook that’s okay - your personal page does not have to be active to take advantage of a business page. You can set-up the personal page with the minimal amount of information and then just leave it be. If you don't want the distraction that is Facebook in your personal life, you can avoid it by not going back to this page but you will need it to move forward.
This is the kind of page you would set-up for a business, organization, band or any other non-human entity. Facebook has done an outstanding job of making this a useful tool for owners with metrics, incentives, advertising opportunities and much more. With over a billion users on Facebook anybody who has a business absolutely should have a business page.
Setting up a business page is easy. Under the little down arrow on the upper right corner there is an option listed as “Create Page.” But wait!
If yours is an established business, particularly if it has a brick-and-mortar presence, a Facebook page may already have been created automatically by people stating that they had been there on Facebook. In that case there is a provision to petition Facebook to give you access to the page, usually by calling the listed business telephone number and then having you enter a code into Facebook that is read to you on a call to the main business phone number.
Set up your page with as much information as you can including the hours for your business, locations and anything else about the business. Obviously the more information you provide, the more likely people will find you in a search and the more information people have when they “Like” or “Share” your page.
Even if you don’t have a specific location, you can use a Facebook page to your advantage. For example, amazon.com and google.com have Facebook pages but the specific location isn’t listed. The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffett and Ben Folds all are examples of bands with Facebook pages.
Now what? You can log into your business page from your personal page and post as the business. Remember that Facebook is a social, fun place to go. Your business message is, essentially, an interruption to why people go to Facebook. So if you’d like to engage people make your posts to your business page count.
I manage quite a few Facebook business pages including one for the Featherbed Railroad, a very unique B&B in Northern California made of vintage railroad cabooses. A Facebook page allows you to track metrics like the number of people who saw a post, how many engaged (shared, commented, “Liked”) a post and other details.
One of the posts which had the highest level of engagement was a vintage image of a locomotive that had broken through a wall and had crashed onto the tracks below. The post asked people to caption the photo, and did they ever.
This is fun. It’s relevant (train picture). It created engagement (asking people to caption the funny photo). And people commented and shared the image like crazy. Near the bottom of the thread we suggested the caption, “Had a rough week at work? Maybe a weekend at the Featherbed Railroad is in order.”
The post itself isn’t asking for business until later. It delivers on the fun nature of why people go to Facebook. And it got engagement. That’s what Facebook is all about - interrupting people’s “me” time with just the right message so they care about your business message.
I’ve seen lots of businesses that either use Facebook just as a “firehose” of self-centered requests for the business. “Like” this. “Share” if you agree. Messages that are only in the businesses self interest. Even for those who like the business and/or what it delivers this is a bit much.
The difference between Facebook and advertising on television or radio, for example, is that if you don’t get your fan base to engage (“Share,” “Like” or comment) then Facebook correctly assumes you really don’t care about this business and it won’t appear in people’s news feed after a while. So, the objective is to get people engaged and since Facebook is about “me” time then your message(s) should reflect that.
Now, once you’ve got your audience engaged it doesn’t hurt to throw in “look at me” messages now and again. For example, if you’re having a sale or something special, or maybe an open house or that sort of thing.
There are so many other ways to engage people and Facebook is a platform that allows for so much integration. For example, the B&B that I wrote about has a module on their Facebook Page that lets you actually book a room directly from Facebook.
I had also mentioned that there are three pillars to the Facebook world but only mentioned two. The third are Facebook “Groups” which are ideal for private organizations, clubs and that sort of thing but are really not appropriate for promoting your business.
Stay in touch and I will keep posting Facebook tips for business owners here. Oh, and thank you for letting me have a bit of your time today.