Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Facebook as a Free Marketing Tool



Everybody knows Facebook. Perhaps you’ve already joined the half a billion other people and signed up for your own Facebook profile, or maybe you haven't, either way if you’re reading this then chances are you’ve heard of it.

So, how can facebook help you to market your products? And is it effective for this purpose?

Along with being a great social networking service, Facebook can provide many valuable, free ways to promote any company, product, service or public figure.

Read on to learn more.



Facebook Profile
This is the basic Facebook personal page where you connect with friends and provide information about yourself. You can post updates on your Wall which will appear in the News Feed that all your friends see. This is more aimed at the social side of Facebook, but can provide marketing opportunities by connecting with the community, which I will go through.

The options you can use to deliver information to the community News Feed

Facebook Friends
Facebook relies heavily on the process of submitting and accepting “friendships”. If you’ve been in the game a while then you probably have a good following of “friends”. I place this in quotations as you’ve probably never met most of your Facebook friends, or at least haven’t seen them in a while. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t provide them with something positive. After all, it is the growing trend to be involved in online communities.

Why is having Facebook friends important?

Well if you want to use some of the following marketing ideas, having a large group of FB followers is vital.

For example, an author could use the Facebook search tool and add other authors who might be interested in your work and vice versa. I’ve noticed a lot of authors have friends in the thousands. Once someone's accepted your request, you can look through their friend list for anyone else appropriate. Then once you’ve developed a substantial following, anything you post on your wall (links to your writing or product, updates etc.) can be seen by all. Of course, people can choose what to read and look at but it stands to reason that having A LOT of friends will increase the chances of sparking at least someone’s interest.

The good
A lot of friends generally equals a lot of exposure. Your friends can pass the word on to their friends and so on. Posting a nice comment on a friend’s wall can be seen by all of their friends who peruse that said wall. Provide something interesting and people will eventually start coming to you. So logic says anyway. Thus comes “the bad” about friends.

The bad
It's time consuming finding and adding many multiples of friends on Facebook. This said, you can only add a certain number of people in a set time period before Facebook gives you the following warning:

"Friend requests are more likely to be accepted when you send them to people you already know, such as classmates, friends, family and coworkers.

If you use Facebook to communicate with strangers, they have the option to report that they don't know you or to mark the communication as spam. If this happens repeatedly, you could be viewed as violating Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."

It’s Facebook’s way of reducing the number of spammers who are inclined to abuse the system. This makes it frustrating for those who genuinely want to use facebook appropriately. Like a parent telling their kids not to talk to strangers, Facebook is just trying to protect us all from those annoying spammers.

NOTE TO SPAMMERS: Get a life. Or find something useful to provide the community and then we’ll be ready to listen.

Etiquette to adding friends
-          Patience is a virtue – slowly add friends.
-          Be nice. Send them a personal message with the reason you want to be their friend on Facebook. Otherwise they may view you as a spammer defeating the real purpose you want to connect with them.
-          Thank them once they’ve accepted your request. Or thank them if they added you.


Fan Pages
A great marketing tool Facebook has provided is the ability to create Fan Pages.
A Fan Page can be used by anyone to promote their business, company, cause, brand, product or themselves.
The options Facebook gives you to create a Fan Page

If you already have a personal Facebook profile you can link directly to this new page. If not, you’ll be prompted to sign up.

Once you’ve created your page you can add photos and videos, information, status updates, embed your website, add apps, plus much more.

The major difference with a fan page is that you have “fans” who “like” your page, rather than having a friends list. To get fans you can invite your friends from your personal page to like your fan page, create a Facebook Ad, or promote it elsewhere. Once someone has liked your page they will receive any future updates you post.

To me, this sounds like an excellent way to develop a loyal following within the community as only people who genuinely like what you’re providing will click the “Like” button. For writers, this is great because once you have built up your fan-base you can market directly to your already willing audience for any books you release in the future. Time to create mine!

TIP: The fantastic, easy to use flash templates provided at wix.com to create an eye-catching and impressive addition to your fan page.


Likes
People can “like” almost anything on Facebook. Comments, photos, links can all be liked by simply clicking on the like button. As previously mentioned, this is how you increase fans of your page.

How can you increase your “likes”?

Example of a like button you can use on your website
  • Provide something people will like!
  • Use Facebook Ads.
  • Use Like buttons on your website or blog.
  • Ask people to like your page in any way shape or form, as long as it doesn’t violate Facebook’s Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Ask as many of your friends as you can to “like” your product or service and watch it grow 

Why are “likes” important?

The more people like something, the more interest it creates in the networking community. Think of it as something similar to a huge crowd of people in a mall watching a busker – other passers-by are going to at least be intrigued to see what the fuss is all about. They may even hang around to watch the show. When the busker first arrived, there was no-one watching – he/she used their performance skills to entice or attract an audience. This, in a sense, is what you need to do to attract people, and is the basis of all good marketing and publicity strategies.


Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads can be used in a similar way to any other internet advertising medium. You can use an image of yourself or your product and up to 135 characters for the body text.

Sample Facebook Ad

You can focus where and when your ads pop up to the relevant target audience. Adjust your campaign to your own daily budget and choose to pay for either when people click your ad or when they see it (impressions). Obviously this is not free, but is worth mentioning due to its great potential.

Groups
Create a group to raise more awareness of your product or cause.



You can only invite people you are already friends with but changing the privacy option to "open" will allow their friends to see what’s being posted also. Anyone who’s in your group can add others. You can also send personal messages to the entire group, which is something you cannot do from a fan page.


Events
Unless it is a real event, people will ignore it, but it’s still a great tool to use for exposure. For example, authors can invite their friends to a book launch. Once again, put the privacy setting on “open” and you never know who might see it.


This invite I got from a friend is a great example of a way to use events for promotion. Here they have used an event to promote the launch of a new publishing company's website. 

Tagging
If you do hold events, such as product launches, take photos and tag people in them, if you know them.
I’ve seen a marketing strategy to promote products where my name, along with dozens more have been tagged in a picture/flyer of something. This may be seen as blatant self-advertisement and people can actually report the image, resulting in it being removed and risking your Facebook account. However, if you know that your friends won’t mind this type of advertising then by all means give it a shot. 

Apps
Applications or Apps can be added to your Facebook page or profile to assist with your marketing goal. Below is a list of apps that are useful for promoting your products:


  • Contests - Contests for Fan Pages enables companies to easily create and launch branded contests within minutes on Facebook Fan Pages. Go to www.wildfireapp.com/pricing to find detailed pricing information.
  •       NetworkedBlogs – promote your blog on Facebook and connect with others who read and write about similar topics. 

      These are just a few example of the many apps available in the business section of Facebook’s app directory.
Most apps are free to use, but there are some that require monthly payment to use, such as those provided by Wildfire, or North Social. Both of these companies offer apps that promise to give you powerful social media marketing tools. I’m yet to test them, and if I ever do I’ll be sure to post a review.

Viral marketing
The two companies mentioned above also offer viral marketing campaigns. However, I’m sure if you do some research on effective marketing strategies and put them in place appropriately on Facebook you could potentially create something viral of your own. I mean, if you give your Facebook friends something worth sharing, then the word will be passed onto their friends, and their friends’ friends, and so on...

Keys to successful marketing with Facebook
-          Be an active part of the community and make quality connections
-          Provide a good product to the right people
-          Do not spam
-         Continue to test the different ways to market as mentioned in this article. It often takes multiple exposures before people react in a positive way. Unless of course what you’re offering is simply amazing!
-         Offer free advice, samples or discounts
-         Always abide by Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines.

Don't overuse these tools to market
I've deliberately left out a few Facebook tools, though they may be effectively used to market your product, they can easily be abused and thought of as spam.

 - Personal messages: How frustrating is it getting emails from people/companies you don't know advertising something you don't want?! Facebooks personal messages are the same. Facebook helps prevent this by limiting the number of people you can message at any one time.
- Wall comments: Posting an advertisement on someone's wall is considered annoying spam as well. Post what you want on your own wall and it will show up in the News Feed for all to see.


Join in this conversation
Please comment if you found this article useful, and please post it on your social networking pages to help anyone else out there with the same goal find it.


There you have it! This should provide you with an excellent guideline for your Facebook marketing ambitions. Good luck!





2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I've seen some of it in different locations, but I haven't seen it all compiled together like this. I'll be bookmarking this post and coming back to in frequently.

    Thanks again!

    Scott

    ReplyDelete
  2. No problems Scott. Glad you found it helpful! :)

    ReplyDelete