Monday, January 17, 2011

The Facebook Marketing Book

Straightforward instructions and explanations for business

Facebook started out as a social networking utility for university students, but it’s proving to be a convenient business marketing tool. It’s cheap and you can expand your audience quickly. But there’s an art to using Facebook effectively.

Facebook is social; it’s about engaging in conversation and drawing people to you with interesting content. And you’re competing with an ever-growing, ever-changing newsfeed.
Facebook is fast, fun and interactive.

Five Stars
The Facebook Marketing Book by Dan and Alison Zarrella has just been released by O’Reilly Books (hard copies available from Amazon, electronic downloads from O’Reilly). It’s incredibly well written in simple language that still manages to convey a great deal of information. And it’s useful for small businesses with a limited budget as well as larger organizations that can afford to customize the software.

Here are some of the basic pointers that I found helpful.

Your Page
The Zarrellas explain the difference between a Page and a Group, the two options available to businesses. The Page, which sends updates to followers’ newsfeeds, is your primary channel, but Groups can work well for a specific marketing campaign or event.

Businesses can include additional information on their page by using tabs and apps. Some are ready-made while others will need some software programming skill to develop. If you can afford to design your own app or tab, great. But keep in mind what followers expect on Facebook – to share things with friends, to tag people in photographs and to send messages.

The Zarrellas suggest investing in an all-purpose Promo tab that you can use to profile new content or special offers and that can be changed easily. They also recommend giving your Page a new look four times a year to keep it fresh.

Who are you?
The most important material on your Page is your icon (identifies all your updates) and your information (side box and tab). Use this material to establish your personality (funny, serious, etc.) and your purpose. Fill it in as completely as possible and try to use key words as these will be used in internet searches. For example, a chef will want to mention that he offers cooking classes and catered meals so that he comes up in searches for those items.

Fast, Fun and Interactive
Your primary content is your updates that are posted on your followers’ walls. It’s important to remember that Facebook is a social network so it needs to be interactive (don’t just push information at people – you want to start a conversation and get feedback), fun (so people will want to share it with their friends) and fast (newsfeeds are constantly being updated).

It’s important to consider who you are, what impression you want people to have of your company (reliable, trendy, a little crazy) and what you hope to achieve (increased membership in your cooking classes, more large-scale catering opportunities, etc.).

Plan ahead by preparing a content calendar that lists what you will post and when and how it ties in with other marketing campaigns or activities. Choosing a daily theme will help you remember that you post recipe ideas on Mondays, answer questions on Tuesdays, and video links on Fridays.

Successful content is focused on your followers’ interests and needs (BBC Good Food – “not up for a big shop? – feed the family with just 5 ingredients”) or related to current events (healthy, low-cal recipes to coincide with New Year’s resolutions and post-holiday recovery).

Invite feedback. BBC Good Food posts a recipe on their website and asks followers to rate it, and followers post questions or photos of dishes they’ve made. And be sure to respond.

Contests and Promos
A great way to build your following is by sponsoring a contest or offering a prize – a photo caption contest, a poll, a 10% price reduction for Facebook followers.

Photos and Videos
Photographs have been a runaway success ever since they were introduced on Facebook. So post as many as possible – to illustrate your update or as an album to commemorate an event. If you post photos of your cooking class, ask participants to comment on them or tag them.

Videos work well because people can view them from within Facebook.

The Zarrellas recommend posting at least once a day and to consider posting more frequently a couple of days a week. “The trick is to keep users entertained without clogging their newsfeeds and annoying them.”

Setting up a Facebook ad should be a piece of cake if you follow the Zarrellas’ step-by-step instructions. I appreciated the reminder to choose warm colours that will contrast well with Facebook’s blue and white and their recommendation to use a photograph of a person as Facebook is all about people.

I highly recommend buying this book if you plan to use Facebook to promote your business. It will be money well spent.

Todd Maffin provides some great tips on how to grow a fan page from zero to 48,000 here.


Jen said...

Thanks for the tips and great ideas!

social media planner said...

The benefits of using Facebook is increasing further as its popularity seems to be on the increase again. While the hype around some other sites such as Myspace continues to decline, Facebook on the other hand continues to grow stronger.I use facebook pages to promote my business.