With hundreds of millions of users, Facebook is by far the dominant social media platform.
Marketers everywhere are making Facebook part of their marketing strategy and many have jumped in with both feet. Advertising Age reports that even marketing giant Procter & Gamble, which initially dismissed Facebook as a fad, has decided that every one of its brands now needs to offer consumers a meaningful Facebook experience.
Yet despite Facebook’s dominance, some marketers still have questions. Is Facebook the easiest, cheapest marketing channel ever invented? Or is it a marketing minefield that can expose your company and products to negative comments? And if your company does belong on Facebook, how do you do it right?
Helpful Resources for Marketers
As social media has matured, authoritative resources have emerged to help marketers understand how to integrate Facebook into a smart marketing strategy. One of the most helpful is Mashable.com’s guide to using Facebook. You also can find great ideas for using Facebook — including tips on how to handle negative posts — on many websites, enewsletters, and blogs. Mashable.com, SmartBrief on Social Media, and Social Media Examiner are three good places to start.
Taking the First Step: A Company Facebook Page
The first step most marketers take on Facebook is creating a company page. Here are five factors to consider if you’re wondering whether to create a page for your company on Facebook:
- Customers: Are your customers on Facebook? Just like an industry trade show or a print magazine, if Facebook has become a place where your customers and influencers are gathering to discuss topics that concern your business, you need to join the conversation. Search Facebook for groups related to your market, your products, and the interests of your customers. Join these groups to see what people are talking about. Then identify what you can add to the discussion through content on your company page that users will find valuable, insightful, and interesting.
- Competitors: Are your competitors on Facebook? If so, you probably should be, too. Study their pages and become a fan to see what they talk about, how often they post, and what type of feedback they get. Use this knowledge to create content that will be more dynamic than what your competitors are offering and make your Facebook page a preferred destination for conversation and interaction.
- Content: What do you want to talk with customers and prospects about on Facebook? If you have news, ideas, tips, case studies, or insights to share with customers and prospects on a frequent basis (at least weekly and ideally more often), Facebook is a great channel for regular touches that build top-of-mind awareness. If you don’t have a steady stream of content or the resources to develop and publish that content, hold off until you do. There’s nothing more deadly than a stale Facebook page where the company’s last post is two months old.
- Promotions: Is direct marketing part of your marketing strategy? Facebook makes it easy to target special offers and promotions to your fans, which can strengthen customer relationships, generate leads, and boost sales. But be prepared: Deploying a direct marketing strategy on Facebook requires having a process in place to quickly fulfill offers, redeem coupons, gather data, and track response.
- Resources: Do you have staff to create, update, and monitor your Facebook page? It’s fairly easy to post news, review comments, and respond to fan posts once your page is up, but a company Facebook page requires regular attention and at least a few hours of time each week to become an engaging, relevant place that warrants people’s attention. If you decide you belong on Facebook but don’t have the internal resources to do it right, hire a marketing agency or consultant.