Six years since its birth, Facebook has extended beyond socially connecting users around the world to providing a tool for businesses to engage customers. As Facebook has recently surpassed Google as the destination where users spend the majority of their time online (in the US at least), businesses should definitely establish a presence on the social network. Read on to find out how.
Drive customers to Facebook
Simply establishing a presence on Facebook has very little practical value if your customers don't know it's there. Thankfully, Facebook provides a variety of tools and plug-ins that you can use to link to your presence on Facebook from elsewhere - such as from your actual web page.
Obviously, you can simply insert a link to your Facebook Page or Places location on your website. Using Social Plugins from Facebook, though, you can integrate with Facebook even more through elements such as a Like Button or Like Box. You can also display an activity feed - the live stream of updates from Facebook - or display comments or recommendations.
For each of the tools on the Social Plugins page, you fill in the blanks to define attributes such as the width or height of the plug-in, or the colour scheme; you then click the Get Code button for code that you can insert on your web page to integrate that plug-in.
It's also a good idea to include links to your Facebook Page or Places page in your email signature, on business cards and on letterhead. The more exposure it gets, the more likely that customers will visit.
Facebook provides Social Plugins that can link to and promote your Facebook Page (like the author's, shown here) from elsewhere online.
Give customers a reason to engage
Now that you have a Facebook presence, don't make the mistake of merely trumpeting your business or its products and services. Facebook provides a platform to involve your customers and share in new ways that extend beyond simply blasting out marketing sound bites.
It's important to engage the audience and give them a reason to frequent the page. Involve the Facebook community in discussion. Make yourself or a representative of the business available to participate and respond. Provide value for your Facebook audience, and let the power of word-of-mouth marketing take care of the rest.
See also: How to tame the social network at work