One of the great things about the Facebook platform is that it provides you access to a large audience of more than 200 million people worldwide at a low cost. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a strategy in place for what you are trying to achieve. Whether you are a small local business, or even a well-known product or service, you will need to give some thought to your audience, like: who are they; how do they want to be spoken to; what messages would you want them to receive; and what are the tactics for having them interact with your message. So let's go through some of your options when it comes to social networking marketing.
HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE
A Facebook presence, like a Web site, is a fundamental tactic and should be on everyone's list of must-haves for social network marketing. Similar to the dot-com land grab that happened in the late 90's, you should secure your company name on as many social sites as you can.
Once you have your presence, you will need a strategy for posting updates with interesting content as frequently as you can. Be sure to get your employees involved. Encourage them to become fans, and drive the conversations to create a thriving community. The reason being, you will want Facebook users to be able to discover your Facebook page through their friends' profiles and with Facebook searches. This is the key to growing your fan base “virally.” Also keep in mind Facebook pages are indexable, so be sure to write your content with good SEO in mind.
DO SOME ADVERTISING
You will find that advertising on Facebook is unlike any other advertising experience you have ever had. This is mainly because of the unique ways in which you can precisely target a specific ad down to the person's profile. For example, if you want to target M.B.A. graduates who are 3-to-5 years out of school, working in Southern Connecticut, like classic rock and whose favorite food is sushi—you can do that!
There are two basic types of ads—display ads and social ads—and they can be purchased like banner ads with cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand (CPM). While they work similarly to online banner ads, do try not to use them in the same way. Most Facebook users feel more comfortable staying within the Facebook environment. So try to direct them to somewhere on your Facebook Fan page. With the new Facebook Fan page design, you can send them directly to a tab of your Fan page since each tab has a unique URL.
CREATE AN APPLICATION
If you are going to send your ads to a specific tab, why not send them to an application you built to engage them with your brand. Facebook applications are similar to widgets, or snippets of code, which can be embedded in any Facebook Fan page to make it more distinguished. You can think of them like interactive spaces that can allow the user to take a poll, play a short game or anything you can dream up.
Creating a Facebook application has become widely popular because custom applications are not that hard or expensive to build. Some Facebook applications have seen tremendous growth because they were built to take advantage of the viral nature of Facebook.
SYNDICATE YOUR CONTENT
Another tactic to consider if you already have a steady stream of rich content is to use Facebook as an outpost for your content. If you already have a blog, podcast or video series, you can effectively use Facebook to attract another audience to interact with those assets.
There are a variety of ways to syndicate content on your Fan page. You can use the Notes page to import blog posts to your Fan page. You can use the My Del.icio.us application to import any bookmarks you may have made in your Del.icio.us account. You can use the Simply RSS application to bring in all the RSS feeds you may have on your company Web site. You can edit your Links section and have a variety of blogs or Web sites you may want to highlight—perhaps by employees or partners of your company. And don't forget to edit your Feed settings to include the complete versions of all your blog posts so they appear not only on your Fan page but on the Feeds of all your fans.
THROW AN EVENT
Facebook events are a great way of getting people together virtually or in person in support of your local business, brand or product. They are also a very economical way of getting the word out beyond your normal in-house marketing list by inviting the Fans of your page. Fans can also help you promote your Facebook event to their friends by sharing the event if it seems of value to a group of their friends.
Don't forget to follow-up after your event; it's just good protocol to do so. If you had a very healthy debate with lots of questions, consider sending a transcript out to everyone who attended or even those that didn't. If some questions didn't get answered because of time constraints, try writing up the answers and sending them to the all attendees, too.
The key point is try not to take a “set it and forget it” mentality to any social presence. While the costs of social marketing are low, don't let that fool you. The true cost is found in the creation of content. And your key to success will be the consistent participation and willingness to engage your customers you can create by using great content.