Sunday, May 18, 2014

Using Facebook For Marketing Your Local Business

Back in the earlier days of the Internet, having a well-positioned static informational web site was good enough for your local business to have some degree of success. So many business owners had their kid or someone they knew throw together a website 3, 5 even 10 years ago and they haven't paid any mind since. These local business owners are leaving a lot of money on the table by simply not keeping up with the times. Nowadays, not only does your website have to be engaging, but having just a website simply isn't enough anymore. 

In order to be successful either online or off, you need to get your brand in front of as many people as possible and keep it in front of them in order to earn their business either new or repeat. When it comes to building your brand online, this means "setting up tables" where people are hanging out. The number one visited site in the world in 2010 was Facebook. This is definitely the place where people are hanging out online. 

With over 600 million users worldwide and growing, 50% of which log-in on any given day, it is important as a business owner that you grasp the magnitude of this social media powerhouse and how using Facebook for marketing can help you grow your business. Not only do people go there to connect with friends and family, they also go to interact with businesses both large and small. This presents an opportunity for local business owners to build relationships with prospects and deepen relationships with existing customers. Social media sites in general can be viewed as extensions of your website and give you another place to get found so people can learn about your products and/or services. 

Over two million websites have integrated with Facebook and the sites feed traffic to one another. The greatest challenge for most business owners is they simply lack the time and/or expertise to put together an effective Facebook marketing strategy. For those business owners that take a more proactive approach, consistency often becomes an issue. A big mistake most business owners new to social media often make is to simply post links and offers to "buy my stuff." With social media, buying comes after relationships are built, generally not before. 

So how are quality relationships build? First step is to create a plan. This includes the frequency of posts as well as the type of content shared. You want to post content that add value to people's lives. This includes videos, article and blog posts that educate your consumer and position you as an expert in your field. This may include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), tips, how-to's and more. Even third part content is great as long as you know it will appeal to your audience. Pictures, coupons, offers, promotions and testimonials can also be shared. 

Testimonials in particular are extremely important and you should encourage your customers to share the experiences they've had with your company on your Facebook wall. Not only will the visitors to your page see the comment, but it will also show up in the news feed of the poster, so all their friends will see it as well. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations frequently taking action based on the experiences their friends and followers had with various products and services. It's called social proof and shows credibility so that new consumers can make purchase decisions with confidence based on a friend's good word. 

Another great way to get people to interact with you is to post questions. You can also create engaging campaigns such as polls, contests, sweepstakes and product giveaways. Getting your fans to engage and communicate with you can give you valuable insights into what your customers like and dislike providing useful market research. There are professional social media marketing consultants that can help you in all facets of managing your Facebook business presence. 

This includes optimizing the page, creating the marketing plan, the content, promotions and the day-to-day dialogue to keep your fans engaged. This leaves you to do what you do best and that's running your business. The important thing is to get out and create your Facebook business page and start building your presence. Whether you've already created your page or need one created, it's time to get serious about leveraging the most trafficked site in the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Turning the Other Cheek on Facebook

As you monitor the comments by fans on your Facebook page, you may swell a bit with pride to constantly see missives praising your business, your products and customer service. Ultimately, however, the pendulum will swing in the other direction - it does hold true that you can't please all the people, all the time. Just your luck, the one person who suffers a negative experience connected to your business - regardless of the situation - may surely take his/her voice to the streets...and Facebook. 

As you maintain your social media presence, it's important to do so in a manner that lets people know there is a human being behind the profile picture you display to the Facebook world. The Facebook page backend does allow you to adjust who can post to your page's wall, photo albums, and message board, but if you are the type who fears backlash and wants to limit consumer opinion, you may wish to step back and evaluate why you have a Facebook page in the first place. 

Limiting a forum for fans to speak their mind makes a powerful statement about the way you handle feedback, good or bad. If somebody is unable to post how they feel about your products and services to your page, do you think they will wonder if your company listens at all? Not only that, blocking any kind of communication from fans keeps the good feedback away, too, so prospective customers won't see how others like you. 

For a company intent on catering to people, it's necessary to listen to the people. So let's say you are browsing your fan page and you come across a thumbs-down notes. Perhaps somebody visited your brick and mortar store and claims to have been treated rudely, or maybe somebody purchased your product, book, or service and was not satisfied. That comment is sticking out there like a stain on your reputation, visible to anybody browsing your page. What do you do? You have a number of options available. 

 1) Delete it. The temptation to change history and remove the comment is always strong. Out of sight, out of mind...or is it? You don't really know how many people will see a bad mark once it's posted, and if you do erase it consider the possible fallout: will people call you on the deletion? Will the original poster retaliate with more negative remarks, not just on your page but elsewhere in spots you can't administrate? While you have the option, removing a bad review should be considered carefully. Weigh the legitimacy of the claim against the poster's intent - if somebody is posting a general "You stink!" without backing it up you may be able to chalk it up to general trouble-making. If specifics about the bad experience are mentioned, it's time to evaluate the complaint and do something about it. 

 2) Ignore it. You could also continue to post and answer other fans as though the complaint doesn't exist it. Of course, that may work as well as deleting the comment. If the fan expects an answer or compensation, you may find he/she doesn't want to be ignored. This could lead to trouble on your fan page as more fans catch wind of the silent treatment, forcing customers to wonder if this is how you truly handle business issues. 

3) Respond privately. One point in your favor is that when somebody posts a negative review on Facebook, it's not done with anonymity. Whereas people can hide their identities on Google reviews or blogs, with Facebook you know who the plaintiff is. Therefore, you can seek to appease the poster with a personal missive offering some kind of compensation (a refund, a freebie, etc.) and hope for the best. A display of personal apology may inspire the poster to retract his/her complaint and keep you a customer. 

4) Respond publicly. Even better, showing not only the plaintiff but everyone subscribed to your page that you heard the remark and intend to make good shows your willingness to listen and heed negative feedback. No person, no company is perfect, but as you work to correct wrongs in productivity and customer service it shows that you are prepared to progress toward perfection, and are willing to take it on the chin once in a while. You could offer the poster some kind of compensation, while at the same time offering your fan base a general discount on products and services. 

Above all, do not ignore poor grades on your company. How you respond to feedback on Facebook creates a powerful image in the mindset of those who check your page for updates. Act professionally, and your fans will treat you as such, even if they are frustrated at times.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Facebook is Re-Writing Marketing Books?

Imagine you had a party that got reported around the world. A party that never took place at all. So here's what the fictional party looked like. "A birthday party invitation posted on the popular social websites Facebook and Bebo attracted some 400 guests and gatecrashers. The birthday girl, British 16-year-old Jodie Hudson, and her mother Amanda learned too late the disaster the online invitation would cause to their luxurious Marbella vacation villa. The villa suffered ruined walls, destroyed carpets, and broken banisters,doors and furniture. 

And apparently they threw a TV into the swimming pool." As I said: The party never happened. But month after months parties such as this do happen. If you were to trundle down to downtown Auckland you'll find hordes of party-goers. They turn up. They drink. They dance. They socialise. And more importantly they don't destroy furniture or throw TVs into the harbour. And the primary source of attraction isn't an email newsletter.Or posters plastered all around town.Or someone making a call to invite you to the party. Amazing as it may sound to your ears, it all happens on Facebook. But surely Facebook is for a younger demographic, you argue. 

And again, you'd be a lot of the mark. Because savvy marketers across the planet are using Facebook to gain supporters and customers. And contrary to what you may believe, the demographics of Facebook has changed rapidly. Suddenly, it's your customer that's on Facebook: And he/she is no teen. But how do we know this to be true? There's proof, of course, but let's see why Facebook seems to work better than email or other media. The biggest reason why Facebook works is because it's a lot like how you get business offline. If you look at about 80% of your business, you'll notice one striking fact. 

That the chunk of your business comes to you via word-of-mouth. And that's how Facebook works. You post your Facebook profile. And people find you. God knows how they find you, but they do. And the reason why they find you is because your customer is doing all the hard work. Because it's so easy to put up a page on Facebook, most people do. 

The next thing they do is populate the page with things they like. And some of the things they like are things that you sell. So let's look at the examples: 

1) Gail Martin: Author of Science-Fiction books. 

2) An Auckland DJ who wanted to prevent bars from closing at 3am. 

3) Barack Obama who wants voters to show up--and vote for him. 

4) SpyBar that has theme-events that attract party-goers. 

5) The All Blacks that gets support for the Tri-Nations Trophy. 

6) Auckland Salsa Freaks for people of all ages to learn a new dance move. 

So let's expand on three of these many examples Example 

1: SpyBar In the past, SpyBar used to use email newsletters to generate traffic to their events. Despite sustained efforts, their email list grew slowly. This is because it required party-goers to get to SpyBar's website and then register. Traditional methods such as printing posters, and sending out physical invites were costly and time-consuming. Facebook has none of these constraints. The party-goers were already visiting Facebook on a regular basis. And were just one click away from landing on the SpyBar Facebook page. What's even more interesting, is that in almost every case, it was the party-goers themselves, that introduced their friends to the SpyBar Facebook page. Result: Whenever Spybar has an event, all they have to do is post their event (and posters) on Facebook. And send a notification to all their Facebook friends. Immediately there's a response. Party-goers have an RSVP mechanism that enables SpyBar to then gauge the numbers of likely attendees. Example 

2: Gail Martin: Pre-selling Science Fiction Books Most publishers do diddly squat for their writers. In most cases,publishers will promote the super-star authors, and leave the rest of the authors to do their own marketing. Gail Martin uses Facebook by getting onto Science-fiction sites and driving visitors from there to her Facebook site. This enables her to build a 'database of friends.' And when a new book is about to be released, she can not only create a buzz around the new book, but can also use Facebook friends to promote her book to their friends. Because a large number of her books sell in the gift-giving period running up to Christmas, she can then manage a campaign that not only gets her speaking engagements, and book-signings, but also push up the sales of her book at just the right time. And a lot of this activity is simply done by the 'friends'. All Gail has to do is send out one notification. Then friends take over, telling friends. And the ball starts rolling. Example 

3: An Auckland DJ who's against bars closing at 3am On 10 July 2008, Auckland Police decided to submit a plan - which would dramatically alter Auckland's nightlife - to the city council with a plea for the 24-hour licensing policy to be brought into line with other districts. Immediately an Auckland DJ, decided to put together a group on Facebook. This group would be dormant unless the plan went forward.The Auckland city council shot down the plan, but well over 1000 people had already signed in to the Facebook page, ready to protest should they be deprived of their vodka and martinis at 3am. Facebook as you can see, is a group-building activity Most pages were initially set up just to meet others online. But that situation has morphed into something bigger. If you're selling ice-cream as Movenpick does, you can start up an Ice-Cream Lovers Event. If you're selling bread, as Baker's Delight does, you can start up a group that adores Cheesymites. If you're selling real estate, you can literally do open-homes for specific houses online, separating each group based on the type of house they prefer.