facebookIn 2010 many of us were fortunate enough to see The Social Network – David Fincher’s Oscar award winning drama about the turbulent rise of Facebook. The film’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, captured the attention of film critics with as much unblinking enthusiasm as today’s youth afford “The Facebook” itself. Teens have surrendered so much of their lives to online interaction that the real world seems to be only an extrapolation of a person’s online status. Those of us who resist the pull are eventually sucked in – because nothing is “official” until it happens on Facebook.

Amidst the pull, businesses were quick to feel the tug. If everybody in the world is looking at one billboard, it makes perfect sense that business owners would want to see their name up there. I recall when requests began to trickle into my inbox, followed by a flood. Everybody wanted a Facebook page and a Like button for their business. Now pretty much every reputable business has exactly these two elements. But this is usually where it stops – they do it because everybody else did. But what will be accomplished? Let’s take a look at “why”.

Facebook was initially created as an exclusive club where university students could interact with other students. Zuckerberg did not worry about making the service profitable initially because he wanted it to be “cool”, shunning the banner ad approach in favor of a clean, polished look. This initial marketing helped to foster what is now known as a social network, where friends connect, keep up with each other’s lives, and even chat live.

This friend driven social atmosphere becomes fertile ground for grass-roots marketing, where buzz can be passed between intermingling social circles that are already tuned in to listen to their friends. The fact that marketing passes between friends makes it more meaningful than a simple ad. For example, if a billboard tells me to Eat at Joe’s, I might – or might not. However, if my friend Nathan tells me he just had the best corned beef sandwich he’s ever tasted at Joe’s, I’ll be on my way there!

For any business, the best way to take your Facebook marketing efforts to the next level is to attract people to “Like” your Facebook page. Encourage your customers to visit your Facebook page – add it to your business cards, your stationary, etc. Don’t be pushy, but when a customer has just had a good experience with your business, that is a perfect time to encourage them to “Like” you on Facebook. Satisfied customers are the best ones to spread the word, which has very high marketing potential. One satisfied customer “Liking” you on Facebook could mean hundreds of people seeing the recommendation from someone they trust.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to “Like” Appletree MediaWorks on Facebook, so here is my shameless plug.

The next piece of the puzzle is to update your Facebook page regularly. Remember that people who have “Liked” your page will receive your updates in their News feed, so by sending out regular updates, you will keep your business in the forefront of their mind. Remember not to overdo it, though, as people may also “Unlike” your page if they feel they’re receiving too much spam. Instead, focus on providing useful, helpful updates every other day, or even once a week. The goal is to keep your customers valuing your business and coming back for more.

In conclusion, Facebook can indeed be a wonderful marketing tool for your business, if handled correctly. Your satisfied customers are your best marketeers, and Facebook helps you utilize them to generate buzz. Your business DOES belong on Facebook.

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