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Should You Use Facebook to Promote Your Business?

It's probably safe to say that by now, most of our readers will be somewhat familiar with social networking sites such as Facebook, at least on a personal level.

But what about using Facebook to promote a business?

When it comes to Facebook, many business owners are either:

  • not sure if it's worth their time and effort to set up a company Facebook page in the first place; or
  • eager to get on Facebook but unclear about what they should be posting on their pages, and what kinds of results they should be expecting.

If you find yourself in either of these situations, below is some more information about the nature of Facebook and how it is typically used to promote businesses, as well as some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine what kind of Facebook presence, if any, your company should have:

  1. How much time do you have? Facebook requires a significant time commitment. By "significant," we're talking about being on the page several times a week, or even more often than that. You're going to want to post new content quite regularly, and if people are commenting on your products or services (which you should allow them to do), you will keep yourself busy responding to those comments. If you don't have the time, you could hire a Facebook-savvy employee to take care of this for you. Either way, you'll need a "face" behind your logo or brand – someone who can interact with fans and show the "human" side of your business.

  2. How much do you have to say, and how often? You need to have something to communicate to your fan base on a regular basis. If you don't have much news to share – whether in the form of promotions/coupons, events, product launches, company announcements, blog postings or something else – your page will look stagnant.

  3. Can you offer useful content as a way of developing your brand? Facebook is more about the "soft sell," where you promote your company primarily by demonstrating your expertise and trustworthiness, and the value-add of your business, to your fans. To achieve this, you will need to provide content that is both relevant and valuable to your audience. So what you post on your page may not always be specifically about your product or service. It could be information about an emerging trend, a helpful tip, or a case study – content that your fans will find interesting and that will encourage them to keep coming back to your page. If this eventually results in a sale, that's great. But your main goal is to use Facebook to develop your brand and drive traffic to your regular web site – not just to hammer your fans with sales pitches.

  4. Are you going to reach the right people? Keep in mind the audience you're targeting: if your product or service is directed toward consumers, Facebook – a very social, informal medium – will provide an easy way to connect and interact with current and potential customers via your fans and their networks. But if you're in the business-to-business (B2B) realm, you may find that other types of social media, such as Twitter or LinkedIn, will be better at helping you get your message across to your intended audience.

  5. Are you using other social media? Facebook can be used to pull your other social media content together, offering variety and interest for your fans. You're not limited to posting plain text; you can add videos, images, applications or games, and if you already have a blog or Twitter, you can set up that content to appear on your Facebook page as well. You can also set up a sign-up form for your e-newsletter, or a discussion area where your fans can interact with one another. It's a great way to maximize the benefits of all of your social networking efforts.

In summary, Facebook is just one of the many social media tools you can use to raise awareness about your business – but if you're going to do it, you need to put the time into it and do it right.