This post was written because my friend Heather McCarron Allard over at The Mogul Mom blog, where I’m a regular columnist, asked for it. You see, sometimes when I’m trying to think up great blog posts, I ask for help from my regular readers. After all, you all come and subscribe to my blog because the content is helpful to you. So who better to ask when I’m trying to come up with more content that’s helpful? So I put out on Facebook a request for topics that my readers would find helpful. And here’s what Heather wrote to me:
I get SO MANY requests to “Become a fan” of XYZ’s page on Facebook and sometimes I think to myself, “WHY??” Not to be rude, but to discover the value of becoming a fan. What are people doing with all these fans? Does it strengthen their brand? I would love to know more.
So today’s topic is Facebook Pages. What are they? Do direct sales companies really need them? Do direct sellers need them? And if so, where do they fall within the entire social media marketing framework? How do they benefit your brand? Heather, this one’s for you.
A Facebook Page is a marketing tool that businesses can use to build brand awareness, engage prospects, and promote viral visibility. The only part of Facebook that is by default indexed by Google, they are good way to improve your business search engine rankings, and help people find your business. Companies such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, and Victoria’s Secret have all had great success engaging their target markets through their fan pages, and you can put this power to work for your business too. While you are only allowed one personal profile on Facebook (per Facebook terms of service), you can have multiple business pages.
I recently did an informal poll of direct sellers, asking them what the number one thing they wished their direct sales company would do in social media to support them. Surprisingly, the number one answer was that they wanted their companies to have a regularly-updated Facebook page. A consultant-facing Facebook page that contains contests and incentives for consultants, specials that consultants can pass along to their customers and prospects, photos of fun events such as recognition, team meetings, and convention, etc, can all be a way to engage consultants, helping them to be a part of the community, and providing them with tools they can use to market their own businesses successfully using social media.
For independent direct sellers, a Facebook page is an OPTION, but in my opinion not a necessity. Since a direct seller’s primary purpose in social media is to build relationships and drive traffic to a site (such as a blog) with the conversion objective of subscribing (you want people to come to your blog and subscribe, so that you then have permission to do more overt marketing), you can just as easily (or more easily) build relationships through your personal Facebook profile. If it is important to you to have a separate business presence on Facebook, a page is the way to go, but realize that it will take work and time to build an engaging presence that causes you to benefit from this presence. Some of the benefits of a Facebook page include the fact that Facebook caps your number of profile friends to 2,000, while a Facebook page can have an unlimited number of fans. You can also add some nice applications to your Facebook page, making it interactive. However, your page needs to be compelling and, frankly, fun enough for people to want to come back. If your page is just an unending series of ads that provides value for no one but you, even if people become fans they’re not likely to come back.
So that brings us to the value proposition of your Facebook page, as well as Heather’s question. She gets plenty of invitations to become a fan of friends’ pages. But the question is WHY? What’s in it for her? If you don’t have a compelling answer to that question, you shouldn’t be creating a Facebook page in the first place.
Your entire social media marketing strategy should be designed around the concept of providing value, positioning yourself as an expert, and providing the content that people need to solve their self-defined problems right now. (“Self-defined” is the key term here. You must get inside your prospect’s head. People don’t say to themselves “I wish I knew which widgets to buy.” They have PROBLEMS they define such as “I wish I knew what to do to relax and relieve stress.”) Then, as part of your marketing strategy, you provide free, actionable content that provides solutions. So in the context of your Facebook fan page, you might import your blog that contains helpful articles, and provide little tips through your status updates. You might have someone design and build an engaging application for your page where people measure their stress level. Notice you’re not pitching products with this approach.
Now that said, you can have a section on your page where you share the monthly specials. People understand to an extent that a Facebook page is about business. But if your Facebook page is an unending sales pitch, I don’t need to show up for that. I’ve got commercials on TV that give me my fill of ADVERTISING. This, instead, is MARKETING, and there’s a difference. You must meet people at their point of need, and create the value that causes people to want to know more about you and what you have to offer. It’s an engagement process.
When you succeed in providing a Facebook page that provides value, it does strengthen your brand. Your fans are more likely to return because they’re engaged, and they’re also more likely to refer their friends. The image and video files you share through your page can help you gain viral visibility through the news feeds of your fans. And you can gain more readers for your blog (with its conversion objective of subscribers) by sharing it on your page. The more interactions you have with someone through your page, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to make a purchase.
If you decide that a Facebook page is the way to go, I encourage you to check out my friend John Haydon’s blog. Here’s got a great post on “How to Create a Facebook Page in Less than 4 Minutes.” But remember that’s just the creation. Then you have the responsibility of creating an environment on that page that provides interactivity and value. If you’re not willing to invest the time and effort that that will require, you may be better off sticking with marketing through your Facebook Profile. (And incidentally, I don’t have a Facebook page myself. I have generated tremendous business simply through my profile and other social media tools, and have not felt the need to add a page I’ll have to support to the mix. Will I one day? Perhaps, when I hit the 2,000 friend limit on my Facebook profile. But for now, I’d rather spend my efforts on other marketing efforts.)
What do you think? Do you have a Facebook page? Has it helped your business? Would love to read your comments below!