By Nick Leech
But is Facebook another marketing domain to be exploited by corporate heavyweights able to employ teams of Oxford IT graduates, or can it work for new business just as well?
The answer is no and certainly yes … if you do it right.
Creating your page
When creating any new business Facebook page, it’s always good to make sure the basics are covered:
Great visuals – a picture prompts a thousand Likes. Make sure the visuals demonstrating your new business are strong and attractive. No holiday snaps (unless you’re selling holidays).
Call to action – Place a clear call-to-action graphic in the landing tab, this will help getting more "Likes" from your visitors.
Check your competitors – Take the time to look at what other businesses/competitors are doing with their pages. Mimic the good and mind out for the bad.
Make sharing easy – Add an "Invite Your Friends" Box to your page enabling your visitors to instantly choose some of their friends and send them invitations to your page.
Make purchasing easy – If you’re selling products online, constructing your page to be a one-stop shop for customers to interact, engage and buy.
Join your forces – In order to maximise awareness and interaction of your business, make sure your website links to your Facebook page and vice-a-versa.
Gaining ‘Traction’ aka finding customers
Your idea is formulated, product or service offering fine-tuned and ready, logo designed, website constructed and Facebook page created. All you need now are customers and the beauty of using a ‘social network’ to find them, is that, if you’re already a private Facebook user, you very likely have a good sized network already that likes you (and that’s in the old fashioned way which is even better!).
For anyone starting a new business, you have to use all the tools you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you out and give your new product a try. Why does this work? Because those people who you share your life story with on Facebook already trust you. There’s no target audience to build. No reaching out to other people in your niche, trying to gain recognition. Your friends will support you. They’re your friends, after all and if they ‘like’ what they see, then suddenly your new business reaches the eyes of their friends and so the social network beings to do what it does best – to network.
Once your network is up and running, don’t be tempted to bombard them with constant, well-worn sales pitches but rather engage them with your insight, offers and industry expertise.
Create a resource – by including well-sourced and relevant industry information and comment on your page, followers will come to recognise you as a lot more than another shop or service provider.
Interact with your customers – whether it be offering discounts, reacting to customer comments, requesting comment on new product lines, initiating light-hearted debates or posing thought provoking questions, engage your followers and they will readily spread the message of your business.
Handle criticism carefully – it is wise to remember that Facebook is an open forum and that any negative comments posted on your business Facebook page from disgruntled customers will have to be dealt with ‘in public’. As is commonly the case, problems which are seen to be being dealt with swiftly and compassionately, often act to reassure new potential customers as to the efficiency of your customer service. Never be tempted to delete negative customer comments as this will invariably come back to bite you!
To Facebook or not to Facebook
A well-executed social media strategy can offer a new business the chance to engage with untold numbers of potential new customers and provide them with a valuable insight into your businesses ethics and character. When it comes to consumer decision making, the importance of these factors should certainly not be underestimated. What you are meticulously cultivating is that illusive animal – consumer trust.
We all buy from companies we trust. Maybe we trust that they will give us the very best value or at least won’t steal our money, maybe we trust that they know more about what looks good to wear than we do, but we buy from them, and return to them, because we have, for one reason or another, formed a positive association with what they stand for.
So if your new business is poised, clear your diary, build your page and … begin.
About the author and WebEden
Nick Leech is MD at WebEden, an independently run, London based, web Software Company. The company’s maverick and refreshing approach gives it outstanding presence in the burgeoning market for website design tools. Through its online site building tool SiteMaker, Webeden is making it easy for everyone, no matter what their experience, to build a website. Over 4.2 million have already tried and succeeded.