What’s the difference between a Facebook personal page, a company page and a group, and do you need all of them? Should you “friend” your customers? Can you really track a sales uptick back to your Facebook postings? From my own experience, I know that managing your social media sites to get the most exposure takes some expertise and practice, but it’s well worth the investment. Following are some of the top questions asked in a recent PPAI social media webinar.
With a small team here, it’s difficult to keep up. What’s the best way to make the most of what we have? How much time should I invest?
The biggest misconception of social media is that it is easy and free. In order to have a successful social media presence, you need to invest time and effort. However, once you get the ball rolling, it will become much easier and less time consuming to manage. I have three tips that can help you minimize the time required to maintain your social media presence.
The first is to set goals. Plan in advance what you are going to do when you log into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. Planning ahead will help avoid distractions such as reading the 25 comments that your uncle’s friend’s daughter got in response to a post about her new sneakers, chatting with your long-lost preschool teacher or saving your Farmville crops from withering. Usually your goal should be to post something, check if you need to respond to anyone and log off. When you have a little more time on your hands, it is also a good idea to visit other relevant Facebook pages such as Promo35, PPAI, your competitors’ pages and your customers’ or potential customers’ pages.
My second tip is to set aside a specific amount of time each day for social media. Aim for 30 minutes a day and, if possible, schedule it before noon. Generally, posting early in the day will get more exposure than posting in the evening. If you achieve your goals before the allotted time is up, use the extra time to explore and learn about what other people in the industry are saying and doing with their social media strategies, and interact with your network of customers and potential customers.
Lastly, use your downtime for social media. Invest in a smart phone with an internet connection and you can turn the time you spend waiting into time you spend checking Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s surprising how much time you spend waiting each day—waiting for your computer to boot up, waiting for an e-mail to come through, waiting in the airport or waiting for your customer to show up. All this time adds up and, if used wisely, can help you maintain a strong social media presence.
Do you recommend using a tool to push tweets and Facebook posts from one place rather than each one individually?
It’s not a good idea to push posts this way. Each platform is different and should be treated differently. If you push your Facebook messages to Twitter, they will more than likely be too long and get cut off. If you push tweets to Facebook, you can’t take advantage of the different types of posts. When you tweet, you should be using hash tags and twitter handles to increase exposure and engagement. When you post on Facebook, you should be using text links, images, videos, notes and tags.
What is the difference and how do I set up a Facebook page for business as opposed to a personal page?
Setting up a Facebook page for your company is actually quite easy. First, if you have not done so already, open a personal account on Facebook (www.facebook.com). You’ll use this account to create your personal profile. People often try to open their Facebook account under their company name, but I highly discourage this as it is against the Facebook terms of service and Facebook has been known to shut down accounts that are created to impersonate someone or something. From your personal profile you can “friend” people, write on their walls, update your status and more. It is your decision if you want to use your personal account to “friend” and engage with customers, but if you do, I suggest being conscious of what you post.
Once you have opened a personal account and set up your profile, you can then create a page for your company. If you want to create a page for your company and do not want a personal profile, you can do so by selecting “Create a page for a celebrity, band or business” from the Facebook homepage. A company page is much different than your profile. You cannot “friend” people with your company page and other Facebook users must decide if they want to “like” the page. When you post as your company, the message will appear in the newsfeeds of the people that “like” your page. When you post as yourself, the message will appear in Facebook friends’ newsfeeds. To switch between posting as your company and yourself, use the “account” menu in the upper right corner when logged into Facebook.
To set up a company page from your personal account you will need to search for “Create New Facebook Page” in the Facebook search and follow the provided steps. The two basic steps to get your page up and running are to upload an image and fill out your company information. However, there are many other ways to optimize your company page, which I will discuss a little further on in this article.
What is the difference between a Facebook company page versus a group?
A company page (also known as a fan page or a like page) is much different from a group. Groups are “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea,” according to Facebook. The main feature of Facebook groups is the ability to make them “invite only” or limited to specific networks.
Anyone on Facebook has the ability to “like” a company page and view the page’s content, but this is not always the case with groups. Groups can be limited to a network. For example, only Facebook users who are part of the Harvard University network can join and access the group. They can also be limited to “invite only.” For example, to join and have access to the “Promotional Product DEALS” group on Facebook, the creator of the group or someone who was invited and joined the group must invite you. While groups can be highly effective and a great way to increase engagement for your company, I suggest sticking with a company page until you are proficient and confident in what you are doing on Facebook and your overall social media strategy.
I am unsure about “friending” my customers and potential customers because I do not want to be perceived as unprofessional. Is it a bad idea to friend my customers?
There is no correct answer to this question and the decision is up to you. I am friends with my customers on Facebook and am happy to connect with anyone with whom I work. Although there is a combination of personal and professional information on my profile, there is nothing offensive or unprofessional and I feel confident in allowing my customers into this space. I believe that having my customers as friends is beneficial as it helps move us from the business-only mentality to a more trusting and personal relationship.
Do you think it’s okay for suppliers to advertise they are on Facebook and Twitter in their 2011 catalogs? Or would they have issues with the end users seeing this?
I definitely think it is okay for suppliers to do this. Advertising your Facebook or Twitter page is no different than advertising your website, which is a common practice in our industry. In fact, if you are promoting your Facebook and Twitter pages correctly, there will be direct links to each on the home page of your website. Much like a website, it is important that suppliers keep all social media posts completely end-user friendly, which means no contact information, no net pricing and no references to any specific distributors.
How do I add custom information tabs to my business Facebook page?
In the past, HTML or FBML was required to make custom tabs. Recently, Facebook announced that in order to add a custom Facebook tab to your page users must now do so with iFrames. This is exciting news for the more technical Facebook users, but it also means that adding custom tabs to a page just became much more complex for the average Facebook user.
The move from HTML or FBML to iFrames is monumental because now almost any type of content can be placed on a Facebook page. Using an iFrame means that you can display content from a website or a webpage designed for Facebook on your page—including website elements such as e-commerce, flash objects and more. Now, when someone visits a custom Facebook tab, he or she is technically no longer interacting with Facebook, but rather a specific website or webpage. What does this mean? It means that the traffic and user information can be captured in your website analytics (such as Google Analytics) which is huge news. When you capture visitor data such as an IP address, geographic location or page viewed prior to landing on the Facebook page, you can use this information not only in marketing decisions and in measuring ROI, but to display certain content on that webpage based on visitor information. (For example, you can display a different message to people in California than you do to people in New York.)
Of course, the most important question is how does someone create a custom tab with an iFrame? There are different ways of doing so, but a good place to start is by first creating a webpage with the content you would like to appear on your Facebook page. Remember that a Facebook tab has a width of 520 pixels, so be sure your website is constrained or it will automatically resize to the narrow width. Most people will have a web developer put the page together as this requires technical knowledge. Once the page is ready you will have to create an iFrame in Facebook and this is where things get a little tricky. I suggest finding a YouTube tutorial on how to set one up or asking your web developer to do it for you. Since iFrames for Facebook are brand new, I am certain we will see more features and apps created specifically to ease the process of adding a custom tab to a page.
Have you been able to track the effect/increase on sales from your Facebook postings?
We have tracked the effect on sales from Facebook by simply asking our customers how they heard about us. Although this may be a little trickier for a promotional products supplier or distributor (ZOOMcatalog is a service provider) since the sale probably will not happen on the day of the post, it’s possible to track the effects social media has on your sales.
Before you get started, identify your target audience, what you can offer them, how you want to engage them and what actions you want them to take. Ultimately, the action is probably that you want them to buy something from your company; however, in the promotional products market, your goal for using social media should be to create awareness and to stay top of mind. Similar to tradeshows, e-mail blasts, and print and online advertising, someone may not need the bottle opener flip-flops you featured on your page the day you posted it, but when their customer asks for some ideas for their upcoming company beach party, they will be more likely to think of the product if they saw it in their Facebook newsfeeds a few months prior.
To measure the success of your posts, look at “Facebook Insights” and your website analytics. You can see if people are clicking on your links, and if your website is receiving traffic from Facebook. Test different strategies and see what works. Over time you will learn what your Facebook followers respond to and what does and does not work. Overall, your posts are successful if you engage your followers. This increases awareness and recall of your company, ultimately leading to an increase in sales.
How can I improve my Facebook exposure?
First, you need to know and identify your target audience. Who do you want to “like” your company? Why should they “like” your company? What other interests does your target market have in common? Identifying these common interests can help you locate and target specific Facebook users. Promote and advertise your Facebook page as much or more than you would your website by adding the link to your business cards, promotional material, catalogs, samples, website, blog and other social media sites. Send out an e-mail or mail a flyer to all your customers and prospects asking them to “like” your company on Facebook for special offers and information. Mention your page to every person who calls your company. Consider using Facebook advertising. There are a lot of ways to get the word out and you should use multiple channels.
Second, provide useful and engaging content tailored for your target audience. For what reason will someone be willing to “like” your company page? What will interest them? How can you get them to engage with your company? Some ideas for great content can include contests, Facebook-only deals or coupons, polls, asking questions and sharing interesting news and information about your company.
Lastly, be persistent and consistent. You cannot expect that everyone is going to jump on and “like” your page the day you create it. It takes time to build a following and it takes continuous effort to keep your target market interested and engaged. Check in on your page regularly, respond to any comments or questions and try to post something at least once a day.
What elements make up an effective fan page?
Once you have set up your basic company page, consider optimizing it with additional content and design elements. Pages that include these are proven to be more effective. Additional content you can add to your page includes photos, videos, blogs and notes. Additional design elements include a great profile image, a “Welcome” landing page and other custom content tabs. It is important to keep all additional elements consistent with your brand image and personality.
To get started on optimizing your page, create an eye-catching and large profile image. Many companies will simply upload a small logo; however, it is best to create a large, clean, legible image. This image is one of the first things people see when they visit your page and first impressions are important. A great page image is an easy way to get attention and encourage people to “like” your page.
Second, upload some images to the “photos” tab, which can include images of your top-selling products, photos of your employees and office, current promotional and marketing material designed for print or e-mail blasts and so on. Do not underestimate the power of these photos because the new Facebook page layout displays the most recent above your company wall and gives you another way to catch the attention of people that may potentially like your page. Also, if you have them, upload videos—product videos, factory tours and promotional videos to the “videos” tab. Include a caption with each photo and video, and be sure to publish them to your wall as well.
Third, add a custom “Welcome” tab to your page. Once you have the welcome tab installed, assign the tab as the landing page for anyone who has not “liked” the page yet.
These steps are a great start to creating a dynamic and effective company page that will stand out and catch people’s attention. If you want to take it even further you can explore the different Facebook apps that are available such as Static FBML, which allows you to create custom tabs, social RSS, which allows you to pull blog posts into your Facebook page, and the YouTube channels app that allows you to pull videos from your YouTube channel into a YouTube tab.
Bryony Zasman is vice president of ZOOMcatalog, an industry business services company based in Lafayette, Colorado. She was named a PPB Rising Star in 2010. Connect with her on these social media sites: www.twitter.com/ZOOMcatalog_bry and @ZOOMcatalog_bry; www.facebook.com/bryony.zasman; www.facebook.com/ZOOMcatalog; www.linkedin.com/in/bryonyz