On July 21, Facebook announced a milestone, noting that they have now surpassed half a billion users. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, stated in his blog post and in interviews that the mission of Facebook remains what it started out focused on: “to make the world a more open and connected place.” For businesses and organizations everywhere, this is a:
“be aware, be very aware”
moment of significance because Facebook has carved out it’s own solar system within the Internet universe! It is no longer just a popular website. It is now a destination all to itself!
This blog post will go over the significance of what this massive Facebook user base means and how businesses and organizations need to evaluate and have a plan for their Facebook presence.
With a user base that is second to only 2 nations in terms of overall population, Facebook has now become it’s own, unique destination. You can do so many things within Facebook, some people may not need to go anywhere else!
Think of Facebook as the “sun” with a growing system of planets around it. These planets are “tools” within Facebook and services provided within the Facebook platform; and the pull of Facebook is strong, as it is building, growing, and pulling more and more industries and markets into it’s unique system…all of which are finding ways to thrive (think ‘grow & expand’ business).
As noted, Facebook has become it’s own, nearly full-service web portal for people to use, it’s own “super power” within the Internet. Increasingly, people will “search Facebook” instead of “search the web”. People find friends, connect with friends, get news, find businesses, research businesses, program new apps, showcase new products, interact with customers, solicit input and feedback, share videos, photos, and more, all within Facebook. This doesn’t discount the need for a great web presence outside of Facebook, but notes the need for a specific plan for within Facebook!
If you aren’t well represented here, you may be losing out on a significant brand awareness and customer building platform. Here are some recent stats on Facebook use:
- Nielsen Online’s US June 2010 report showed that Facebook was 1st out of the top 10 web brands when it comes to time spent online.
- During the month of June, Facebook US users spent an average of four hours and 39 minutes on the site, far surpassing time spent on any other site!
- Globally, average Facebook user spends 6 hours on Facebook per month. Who is second? MSN/WindowsLive/Bing at a mere 2 hrs., 41 minutes.
So what should a business do?
1. Set Your Page Apart
Note that Facebook’s free “Page” tools give you some functionality, but they give EVERYONE the same functionality, so the first agenda of the day is to set yourself apart! Create a Landing Page rather than having new visitors to your Facebook Page come to your wall. If you enjoy FBML coding, you can use Static FBML. If programming is not your thing, then use a tool like TabSite that allows you to customize a Tab and have sub-tabs, all while using a simple WYSIWYG Content Editor.
Explore Media Video Company has a Custom TabSite with Flashthat scrolls thumbnails
across the Fan Page and then display information on hover over and then
displays the video upon clicking. Clean, Crisp, Unique!
2.Engage Your Audience
There are at least three ways to do this, and usually a combination of two will work best:
- Use offers, giveaways or competitions to drive traffic to your page or group.
- Invest in targeted FB ads to recruit fans.
- Find and manually add existing fans/employees etc to build an initial audience.
None of these is a magic bullet but all can help build up your base!
3. Be Social!
Answer questions, respond to input, share a bit about your company and what makes you unique (i.e. let your hair down!). Nothing works better than prompt, thoughtful responses!
See Mari Smith’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/MariSmith for an example of reaching out with timely responses and cheery helpfulness!
4. Reinforce your Brand
Customizing your Fan Page gives you the opportunity to extend your branding. In the example above, Explore Media’s Fan Page includes their logo and looks strikingly similar to their website, see here www.Explore-Media.com. This can give visitors a sense of comfort and recognition when they see your branding and they more readily will “Like” your page and engage with you.
5. Keep Them Coming Back!
Be creative with your Facebook page marketing so that it rewards visitors for increased interaction. Provide some entertainment or added value such as a “Facebook Only Coupon Code” and they’ll keep returning and promoting you across their network.
6. Connect Your Other Social Feeds
There is no shortage of Fan Page Apps that allow you to share your information right on your Fan Page. With Slideshare’s App you can share your papers and presentations, and there’s no excuse not to share your Blog posts, your Twitter feed, and your YouTube Channel! This is IMPORTANT because visitors may not go elsewhere to look you up, so give’em all you can while they are with you! See the Eco-Friendly EverGreen RV Travel Trailer Fan Page below which use the TabSite App to showcase their product, News (via RSS), YouTube Videos, and more right within their Fan Page!
So, to close, remember:
- Facebook is not just a website, it is now a destination!
- To not adequately consider your business presence on Facebook would be a big mistake!
- Times are changing, are you? Develop a Facebook presence, use the tools they give, but expand beyond that with Apps and customizations to give your presence some “bang”!
Hope to see you in the Facebook Solar System!
Since 2005, Mike has played an integral role in designing, deploying, and tracking robust web design and Internet Marketing strategies for over 200 clients, and is an accomplished Internet Marketing Consultant. He holds a M.S. in Organizational Development & Leadership from Shippensburg University of PA, and a B.A. from Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. Mike is a Web Design and Internet Marketing Consultant at Digital Hill Multimedia, Inc., an innovative web design and internet marketing company based in the Midwest. Digital Hill is the maker of Facebook TabSite, a leading Facebook Fan Page customization tool. Connect with Mike on Facebook at www.MikeGingerich.me.