Generating value from social networking requires more effort than merely launching a Facebook page. Get started with these guidelines.
Shortly after Google fessed up to being caught flat-footed when it came to business profiles (or lack thereof) on Google+, Facebook rolled out a guide to Facebook for Business. Coincidence? Probably not, but Facebook for Business provides some useful advice about not only using Facebook in the corporate world but also smart use of social networking in general. Here are five lessons learned from Facebook for Business.
1. Develop a strategy
Facebook for Business provides some basic tips for setting up Pages (use an eye-catching, recognizable image for your company; write a short blub that clearly describes what the business is; and so on). But it also recommends creating a Page strategy. Doing so might seem like a no-brainer, but too many companies just hang a social shingle without knowing what they want their presence to accomplish. Will your social networking presence be used to disseminate information, provide a level of customer support, or engage interactively with customers? All or none of the above? Before deciding which image to use or writing that pithy company statement, make sure that your organization has clear goals in mind, along with benchmarks for measuring success.
2. Don't just sit there--share!
If you build it they may come, but if you don't feed it they will leave. Facebook for Business states what is probably obvious to most business users--that updates, videos, and links added to a company Wall will show up in the News Feed, "where your fans and their friends can comment and share." Facebook for Business goes further by encouraging organizations to think of their Pages like well-planned magazines, including targeted and exclusive content. If thinking of Pages like a magazine--never mind a well-planned one--seems a bit overwhelming, just think of it in terms of providing the kind of content that is true to your brand, that your audience will find appealing and, if possible, that your audience won't be able to find anywhere else.
3. Don't leave community to chance
Facebook for Business offers some very good advice for building community--a task that is typically harder than companies think it will be. In addition to providing engaging, relevant content, you need to interact with users when they talk back to you. No comment, compliment, question, or complaint should be left hanging--it looks bad not only to the one person who posted, but to everyone else who sees that your company has not responded. Even if you have to "take it offline," make sure the community sees that you are taking some kind of action. Facebook for Business recommends not only dedicating staff to the task of communicating with users on Facebook, but also creating a calendar and setting aside a certain amount of time a day for interaction. They don't call it social for nothing.
4. Build awareness
People are becoming accustomed to searching for company information on Facebook and other social networks, as they have on traditional websites for years. But it doesn't hurt to promote your company's social presence everywhere and in any way that you can. Facebook for Business recommends adding the Facebook Like button to your website and in newsletters, as well as encouraging customers to "Find us on Facebook" on physical signage and the like. The same goes, of course, for promoting your organization's presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.
5. Use data to inform strategy
As you build out your social networking presence, it's important to use analytics to assess performance. Facebook's built-in analytics will let organizations know, for example, how many fans and likes you have, how often people comment, and whether certain days of the week are more active than others. For many organizations, however, third-party data analysis tools such as Web analytics platforms will be necessary and may already be in use in your organization.