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Facebook Marketing: More than a social network

Facebook Marketing: More than a social network

With the Oscar winning film the Social Network (the so-called dramatisation of how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook) being one of the biggest films of last year, and Facebook itself eclipsing Google as the website with most number of page views in the UK, it’s hardly any wonder that many businesses look at Facebook with a sense of mistrust, curiosity and intrigue.

It’s true that more man-hours are lost in the UK to Facebook than to any other Internet pastime and, to combat this, many companies have a zero tolerance policy on the social networking website with regards to their employees. However, whereas some businesses will bury their heads in the proverbial sandboxes, others are embracing Facebook as a medium for increasing their business, marketing their website and reaching new customers.

How exactly? Facebook Pages.

Facebook allows businesses (and just about anyone really) to create a Facebook Page to promote their company, charity, gathering or, yes, even their dog (as Mark Zuckerberg himself did recently with ‘Beast’). In a recent update from Facebook (March 10th to be precise) the layout of Facebook Pages changed to come in line with the new layout for profile pages, so that navigation was down the left hand side and a series of photographs for the pages appeared across the top.

This update came with a host of other new-fangled features, such as the ability to log into Facebook ‘as’ your page, and use the social networking website as though you were your company. You could post comments on pages, take part in discussions and generally browse around Facebook while logged in as your Facebook Page – further promoting the page to other members of Facebook, and further promoting your business (or dog, if your name’s Mark Zuckerberg).
Promoting Your Facebook Page

Of course, having a page isn’t just about creating a page for your business, adding your address, logo and then letting it sit there; no, there are more things you can do to promote your page.

For example, rather than ‘banning’ your employees from using Facebook while in work, why not allow them to help you to promote your Facebook page? Using the latest Smartphones, such as the iPhone 4, your staff can ‘check in’ to your company when they arrive for work. This displays on their profile and in the news feeds for all of their friends – creating a link to your Facebook Page. If staff are encouraged to do this, all of their friends (and some people have hundreds) will see your company name every morning… 10 staff members with an average of 150 friends is 1,500 eyes on your company name each day. How much is that sort of brand awareness worth?

The brand awareness aside; Facebook can also be used to directly liaise with customers, both existing and potential, about your products, services and offers. If, for example, you operate a specialist shop you can post regular updates on new products, stock levels and when orders have shipped or arrived. Customers can then post questions on your Facebook Page (questions which, in turn, also show up on the news feeds of all of their friends) for you to answer. The interaction potential is huge, if you just open up your mind to the possibilities.

But surely Facebook is a little restrictive with what you can publish and how much branding you can have? Actually, using a Facebook application called FBML (Facebook Markup Language) you can create fully branded pages, complete with contact forms, videos, offers and newsletter sign-ups. These pages can act as lead generators for your business, bringing new business through a channel that many businesses dismiss as being just a ‘frivolous waste of time’.

There’s really no limit to how far you can go, or what you can do through Facebook. Perhaps it’s time you looked into the possibilities…

Darren Jamieson

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