By Heather Lutze
Most people know Facebook as a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and to reconnect with long-lost childhood classmates. But theres another side to Facebook, one that can help your business grow.
According to Facebook, more than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages, and more than 20 million people become fans of pages each day. For business owners, this means Facebook is definitely a way to spread your companys message, build community and loyalty among customers, and ultimately increase your companys revenue.
If youve only used Facebook for personal reasons, making the jump to a business application can seem challenging. The following suggestions will help you create a business Facebook presence that generates results.
Distinguish Your Facebook Person and Persona
Ask yourself these two important questions: Who am I as a person outside of my business? This is your person. Who am I as a business owner/manager on Facebook? This is your persona. Can you combine the two identities? Absolutely not! If you already have a personal Facebook page you use to keep up with friends and family, keep it personal. Dont mix your business contacts into that page.
Rather, build a new Facebook profile as the owner or manager of Company XYZ. This is your business persona page. You can even name it John W. Smith, CEO and Founder of Acme Corp. Add your business bio and other information that pertains to your role in the companythe persona of you as an owner/manager. Then you can build a Fan Page off of that personal profile that talks specifically about the business.
Mixing your personal and business pages is discrediting and unprofessional. And yes, its perfectly fine to have two profiles on Facebook. Youd simply have to use your middle initial or some other distinguishing information to differentiate the two accounts.
Name Your Accounts Wisely
While your individual posts on Facebook are not ranked in Google searches (at least not yet), your profile is ranked. Simply go to your settings tab in Facebook and elect to make your profile public. How you name your business persona page and fan page is critical for ranking purposes.
While youd certainly use your name for your individual business account and your company name for your fan page, youll want to tag some keywords onto each name. For example, if you want to be known as a leader in Internet marketing, you might name your business profile John W. Smith, Internet Marketing Strategist. Similarly, you could name your fan page in such a way that theres no question what your company does, as in Acme Corp., Widget Supplier and Manufacturer.
Think of the keywords you want to be found under and work them into your tagline or title. This strategy gets your profile open to the world and helps you go beyond just building a Facebook community of friends and fans. Now youre opening your company up to a bigger community outside of Facebook.
Post Appropriate Content
Once your pages are set up, encourage your current customers to join your fan page. Anything that happens with the business such as specials, new products or services youre offering, any new company developments you want people to know about, or anything related to the company as a whole, would appear on the fan page. People read those posts and monitor what your company is doing or offering and then invite others to become fans.
As for your business persona pagethe page focused on you as the owner or managerhere youd post information about conferences youre attending, your thoughts on the industry or company, and business things related to you personally. For example, maybe you won an award or published an article. Talk about these types of things on your business persona page.
Additionally, on your business persona page, youd only put out and accept friend requests from people who directly relate to your business. If one of your personal friends finds the page and offers a friend request, direct that individual to your personal page. Realize that while you can control whom you befriend, you have no control over who becomes a fan of your companys fan page. People become fans because theyre interested in your topic.
Also, its OK to have ads, coupons and specials for your company on your fan page. In fact, fan pages were designed as a way to give businesses a way to promote their company without getting people upset. However, dont put ads, coupons or specials on your business persona page. If you do, people will quickly start un-friending you.
Finally, remember to feed your Twitter posts, blog posts and YouTube videos directly to your fan page so you can extend your brand. You can do all this dynamically by using a tool such as Ping.fm or SocialOomph.com.
Build Community and Profit
With more than 500 million active users on Facebook, this is one place you definitely want your company to be seen. The key is for clients, prospects and the Facebook community at large to see your business in the most positive light possible. By keeping your business and personal information separate, building your pages professionally, and posting relevant content your audience will want to read, you can create powerful relationships on Facebook that positively impact your companys bottom line.
Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years as CEO of The Findability Group, formerly Lutze Consulting, a search-engine marketing firm that works with companies to attain maximum Internet exposure. Shes also an author and speaker. For more information, visit www.findabilitygroup.com .