My sister and I have tried to get my dad to “get on” Facebook. Not realizing that our terminology is a little vague for those who are unfamiliar with the social networking site, he has replied “is it a bus or something?” on multiple occasions. We refresh his memory, tell him it’s a website where he creates a profile and can send us messages and see pictures, etc., and he promptly poo poos the idea-he doesn’t want to “expose himself on the internet.” We laugh, it sounds like he’s imaging a site where people plaster photos of them in varying states of undress. Dad’s also quick to point out that none of his friends are “doing this Facebook stuff.” I’m left wondering how I could explain the benefits of social media marketing (SMM) to someone like my dad. If your friends aren’t on Facebook, what can you do with it? And, in the case of a business, if your customers aren’t the Facebook demographic (though a rapidly growing and surprisingly diverse one), what good is Facebook to your social media marketing?
It’s not news to many these days that Facebook can be a great marketing tool for any business. Creating a community with your consumers, offering special incentives and creating an informal and personal type of communication that is typically lacking in a business-consumer relationship. Just take a look at the success Target had in using Facebook(but success isn’t guaranteed, as you’ll see from the Wal-Mart example). But what if your customers aren’t the Facebook type? Do you just ignore the platform altogether? No. Even if you can’t effectively reach your customers on the popular social networking site, here are a few things you can do with Facebook to build and grow your business:
Research Competitors and Learn From Other Businesses
Getting started with Facebook, whether that’s creating a personal profile or a company page, opens up a world of information. You’ll find competitors and other businesses in your industry and see what they’re doing with Facebook and other social media marketing opportunities. See how they communicate, who their audience is, and how they follow up their Facebook communications offline.
Remember, you’re not 007 and this is not infiltrating the enemy camp. Don’t work under false names or hide your identity-those things always come back to haunt you. Be yourself and be honest. You may be surprised that the networking and sharing of information online is a little more open than setting up a face-to-face with your competition.
Expand Your Professional Contacts List
Create a company page for business development and make contact and network with suppliers, potential partners, distributors, etc. Facebook and other networking sites offer a much more relaxed and informal forum to meet new business contacts and begin communication that can lead to lucrative relationships.
If you’d like to communicate with business contacts on Facebook but already have a profile you use to communicate with consumers, create a separate profile. Both endeavors require a different tone and method of communication-they don’t mix well. And, remember, Facebook is not a place to formalize any business relationship. As soon as you find a contact that you’d like to develop an offline business relationship with, start working with traditional methods of communication to avoid any confusion and assure any agreements are properly documented.
Find New Talent
Whether you’re looking for qualified, experienced executives or candidates for seasonal or part-time employment, you’ll find them on Facebook. Post open positions on your Facebook profile and tell potential employees about your corporate culture through pictures, videos, and information from current staff. You’ll be able to sell yourself as an employer much better than you could in a half-hour interview and office tour. Also, Facebook offers you the chance to be a little more candid. Share the upsides as well as the downsides of a position. If the hours are long or a particular aspect of the work is really challenging, let potential candidates know. You’ll get candidates who know what they are in for and are making an informed decision to apply.
Make sure you transfer communications for job applicants to traditional methods of communication. Ask for resumes to be sent to an HR or corporate contact, not your Facebook mail. Keep posted positions up-to-date so you don’t alienate applicants and waste your own time and resources with outdated inquiries and applications.
And Don’t Forget….
Tailor the information you share on Facebook to your desired audience. Professional contacts don’t necessarily want to here about your latest promotions (as would your customers) and if researching competitors is your goal, don’t share your latest and greatest plans for growth. And, even if you don’t think your target demographic exists on Facebook, don’t be afraid to experiment with communicating to potential customers too. You may find that your target audience is larger than you think-or more internet savvy.