From the April 2012 Issue.
We're all on Facebook.
Professional and personal acquaintances are much more likely to friend you on Facebook than to "Like", "Follow", "Link" - or whatever the parlance of any other network. If you and your business aren't on Facebook, you're among the minority.
For the sake of background, let's look at the numbers. According to the website Check Facebook (www.checkfacebook.com) there are 833,145,160 people on the social networking site. In the United States alone that number is nearly 156 million. So, if you think about it, more than half of the United States is on Facebook, they're supposed to be over 13 and must be connected to the internet.
So, as advertising channels go, you've got a better chance of reaching your audience on Facebook than by advertising on all three major broadcast television networks back in 1962.
Unfortunately, many marketers make the mistake of thinking that Facebook is only good for consumer marketing. It's not! Think about it... You're on Facebook, right? Do you ever see any ads that are professionally relevant?
Step 1: Put your business on Facebook
When you begin to create your page (www.facebook.com/pages/create.php), select Local Business, allowing you to set an address for a local citation. After setting a profile picture and filling out your page’s "About" section with relevant information, you can set the URL for your business page.
This simple process gives you a blank page for your business. After a brief tour, Facebook invites you to share your hard work. But wait! Without any content, the barren page is hardly "likeable."
A little work can go a long way to making your profile complete and worth connecting with. First, set a cover photo; this new capability came with the new Timeline feature (www.searchinfluence.com/2012/02/facebook-timeline-for-pages) and allows you to create a striking appearance for your page. Keep in mind the guidelines for cover photos: limited text, no promotional copy, and design- rather than content-focused. Stand out from your competitors and put up a great photo of your staff, your building, or whatever immediately represents your practice.
Step 2: Add value by curating content for your target market
For the first-time visitor to your Facebook page, the ability to immediately set yourself apart from your competitors is crucial. The first step is creating an engaging layout using the cover photo. But once that's done, two tactics can help provide value for your visitors.
The first is to use the "Milestone" to humanize your company. A business or practice with a long history can highlight famous clients, great work from decades past, or awards and recognition for longstanding achievement. For example, Coca-Cola's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/cocacola) highlights founding documents and correspondence from centuries past as social proof. Furthermore, these milestones can go back to 1000AD, allowing you to include related factoids and historical events, like the initiation of your local currency, major changes in law, and major local events affecting your business.
Another way to curate relevant content is to share what you find on the internet that would be relevant for your visitors and your colleagues. You're already reading about accounting, tax issues and financial regulations on a daily basis, why not share what you find? These two audiences set the stage for you to position your company as a thought leader not just among your peers, but among potential clients. Providing Do-It-Yourself advice can also put your firm on the radar of those who may not follow those issues, and sharing breaking industry news keeps your competitors looking at your company's taillights.
Step 3: Become involved in your online community