Traditional company managers and advertising professionals who think Facebook is a way for college students to gossip, think again! Professionals in a number of fields make up a significant portion of the Facebook population. Adults in the general population are another group using this form of social media. Marketing “experts” who survived and flourished in the world of traditional media will need to gain knowledge and skills with Facebook and other online methods.
Those who decide to use Facebook as part of an overall marketing system should understand that this is a very personal method of presentation. Your business personality will need to be closely tied to your personal identity. The vast majority of Facebook users expect authenticity if not complete openness.
Facebook as a digital form of you! If you and the others who work with you can grasp this concept you don’t need to be an Internet expert or a technology fanatic. Consider that some of the most valuable customers and clients are using Facebook. It’s the new community and the companies that aren’t using it might not make connections with their target demographic.
Think “Social Media”
Under the social media category you will find blogs, forums, sites that share videos, podcasts and, of course, sites generated by the users themselves. Facebook is one of the most prominent social-media sites today, bypassing MySpace. But in the ever-changing Web world even Facebook is just one of the important methods for online marketing.
If you are a numbers freak, heavily on statistics, graphs and charts to provide your marketing direction, consider this: More than 200 million people manage personal profiles on social networks. Millions more read daily journals and blogs on social-media sites.
Here’s the inside info from The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web (Tamar Weinberg 2009), “Social media marketing (sometimes referred to by its acronym, SMM) connects service providers, companies and corporations with a broad audience of influencers and consumers. Using social media marketing, companies can gain traffic, followers, and brand awareness – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
One of the key words in this marketing method is trust. Social-media marketing emphasizes the community, a collection of individuals, rather than the individual. Your focus should be on providing solutions and sharing what you know, rather than on controlling the customer’s mind with a carefully crafted advertising method. This larger process is considered “viral.” A Web-site viewer finds a nugget of information and spreads it. Others trust that person’s ideas and opinions on this subject. An entire community may adopt some of the better ideas.
Ideas and Tools
Some of the best ideas and tools for marketing your company or products on Facebook are:
- Profile page – the foundation for Facebook activity
- Marketplace and messages
- Events and activities list
- Notes, photos, blogs, journals
- Shared opportunities
- Polls and surveys
- Advertising networks
If you still haven’t grasped the idea of using social media to market your efforts, don’t worry. This is a fundamental change in the way we look at marketing and at advertising. Perhaps a closer look at some of the individual tools and ideas would help.
For example, the profile page is not only a place to start, an introduction of you and your business it is also the place where you can put your message in words and images. You don’t have to carefully whittle and trim your advertising message so that it fits a particular magazine, newspaper or radio station. You still have to give careful consideration to your message of course but you can speak with some passion about your brand and your company.
Consider this: People who use social media are generally browsers. They may come across your profile page (and your marketing message) through the viral network mentioned earlier. As they move from one Facebook page to another they will develop trust for the ideas and products their friends recommend.
The Community Idea
When this sharing gets a foothold in the online community businesses may start to see the power of Facebook groups. These collections of like-minded individuals are not only customers they may also be partners and friends who use word-of-mouth tactics to spread your word. *There are some size limits for groups but this may change in the near future. But you can create new groups.
Combine the groups concept with additional pages and you are well on your way to using social media for successful marketing. With Facebook pages you can customize your message and provide the customer or client with a full experience of your brand, product or service. When you have a fan for your custom page this individual can (and will) share the page with friends. It’s an easy, free way to build viral marketing.
One of the most important questions you can ask when developing your social-media marketing plan is this: How do successful ventures spread the word about a special event or activity? Let’s look at an example. In the world of rock-and-roll music in the 1960s fans of a band told others and the audience grew quickly.
You can do this with your company events or activities through Facebook. (It’s still done in the rock-and-roll world!) You can get the word out to hundreds, even thousands, of people. Facebook marketing helps you build a community around each individual event, product or service and this is just the beginning of how Facebook can be part of your social-media marketing.