What is Social Media for Business?

What is Social Media for Business?

I’ve spent a few evenings and Saturday mornings at MeetUps and other seminars trying to figure out what Social media is and how to apply it to business. As with all things seemingly infinitely complex once you get it you wonder why it was so baffling before.

Digg Facebook and Twitter

Facebook (or social media in general) is like sitting in a stadium watching television on fifteen giant screens at once along with ten thousand other people with interests somehow vaguely related to your interests.  Each person (including you) has a remote that controls the channel on one of the big screens, the sound is off but all the screens are subtitled – not with the subtitle of the video feed – it’s the text of the conversations going on at the snack bar and in the restrooms.

Combine it all into a single computer or smart phone screen, spread the spectators and remotes out across the world and connect them using the internet and you’ve got a chaotic avalanche of bits and blurbs called social media that now engages the average citizen for one to five hours out of every day.

Savvy businesses are promoting to this audience with a combination of free content, product placements, and paid advertising bits and blurbs that pop up sometimes no matter what button anyone in the audience chooses.

Another Analogy

Facebook (or social media in general) is the direct marketing arena of the mobile generation. U.S. Postal advertising mail volumes plummeted as advertisers shifted from physical mailings to e-mail campaigns and robocalling phone marketing plummeted with the advent of do-not-call lists.

Facebook and Skype (the leader in computer to computer, device or phone conversation technology for consumers) recently joined forces and facebook has their own mobile phone system in the works. The text, status update and tweet are all beginning to blur into a single entity as users automatically feed each into the others. Transcribers and readers are popping up to convert your voice mail into text or vice-versa.

It’s not clear how the blurring and melding of communication will play out, but it is clear that having a big list of followers will provide advertisers with more diverse targets as it does.

This analogy also points out an important consideration for any marketing efforts you attempt using social media – think for a moment about the public’s opinion of junk mail and telemarketers – then design your efforts accordingly.

How To Create a Facebook Business Presence

Customize a Facebook Business Page

Step-by-step suggestions for customizing your facebook business page for a good first impression, encouraging interaction and easy low maintenance.

One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to build your facebook business page is that facebook is not intended to support business use and the editing interface is very confusing.

The steps listed below are what we used to create our page and should take about an hour to complete if you have a logo and some promotional text available from a brochure or website.

ON THE MAIN PAGE

Before you can edit the page you need to be able to find it.  It’s a good idea to bookmark the page when you create it.  The address to your page before you get a vanity name will look like http://facebook.com/pages/any-random-text/126758874648, where 126758874648 is replaced with the 12 digit code for your page.

If you don’t know the address look on the personal profile used to create the page and click the “Ads and Pages” link on the left hand side or search for the name assigned to the page.

Facebook - upload picture and modify thumbnail
Facebook - upload picture and modify thumbnail

Change Logo (page picture) – the logo should be 180 px by 540 px. Mouse over logo and click the pencil, choose upload photo then browse to the image on your computer and upload

Change Thumbnail – Mouse over logo and click the pencil, choose edit thumbnail then move the box around until the segment of your picture you want to display is outlined.

Facebook - Modify Tabs, Add an Update, Set Display
Facebook - Modify Tabs, Add an Update, Set Display

Delete a tab – click tab, click pencil, click “delete tab”. Delete any pages you don’t use, but Wall and Info cannot be deleted.

Move a tab – click, hold and drag. You cannot move wall or info but the others can be rearranged

Add a tab – the plus sign can add some tabs (like Notes), but others (like FBML) you have to “edit page,” add an application then the tab becomes available

Edit Info Tab – When someone likes your page it’s the first bit of the “Company Overview” from the “Info” tab that gets displayed on their feed so include promotional language there.

The Empty Box Under the Page Picture (logo) – This little box is for whatever you want up to 250 characters. It is indexed by Google near the top of your page and a good place for keywords. Click the pencil and type. If you put in a full URL (http://mapcr.com…)

30 Minutes
One final tip: In status updates use the @ sign as in “@costaricaguides” to give exposure to your site and theirs.

There is a word doc on the desktop computer that has an edited version that should be used in place of the above.  Need to make a few changes to it –

-make sure “Notes” is under the page edit section and mention the need for persistence to get the feed started

-mention how to add an additional FBML page

At the bottom of the FBML Edit page there is a link on the left hand side to “Add another FBML box”

Facebook Business Presence – Sign Up & Create “Page”

Sign Up for a Personal Account & Create a Business “Page”

The procedure for creating a Business “Page” on facebook is relatively straightforward, but the interface can be somewhat confusing and the way the whole thing works is downright baffling.   If you’re not interested in how it works or why just follow the instructions below to get your page set up.

Create a Personal Profile to Administer the Business Page

There are no tips or secrets here.  Go to facebook.com and click sign-up. The Personal Profile does not have to have any public connection to the Business Page once the page has been created.

Depending on your business, your personality, popularity and how you interact with the business you may want to keep a connection between your profile and page and use your profile to promote the page but in that case you probably know more about facebook than we do.

Create a Business Page

Create a Page for Your Business on Facebook
Create a Page for Your Business on Facebook

Login to the Personal Profile and go to any page (ours will do, and you’re welcome to “like” it while you’re there) and look at the bottom of the left hand column for the “Create a Page for My Business” link.

Under “Official Page” choose the category that best describes your business from the categories

  • Local business
  • Brand, product, or organization
  • Artist, band, or public figure

If you’re not sure of the best fit try clicking each and looking at the options in the dropdown menu for more categorization.

Enter a name.  This is not critical because it is not your page URL (username or vanity name) – you’ll choose that later after you’ve gained at least 25 fans.  It is important though and you should use something that describes your business and is easily remembered because it is used in the search index.

Create Another Personal Profile and Make it a Page Administrator

There should always be at least two page administrators because if there is only one and that profile is accidentally deleted or gets blocked the associated business page and all of its fans will be lost…permanently.

Use a spare e-mail address or have someone else in your organization create a personal profile.  From their personal profile search for the business page.  Like the business page.  Logout of the secondary account and into the account used to create the page.  On the left hand side you should see the secondary account as someone who likes the page.  Click “See All” to open a pop-up with everyone who likes the page then select “Make Admin” and confirm.

Why All the Rig-a-ma-Roll?

Facebook was not designed to host businesses.  Once they realized that businesses and famous personalities acting as businesses were using the system and more importantly that they could charge businesses to advertise on the system facebook patched together some code to accommodate business.

What About Using A Personal Profile or Group For Business

There are thousands of analysis available if you google “Facebook Group versus Page” so we won’t waste time re-analyzing it here.  We decided on a page.

Using a Personal Profile to represent your business has some advantages but one clear disadvantage – it is against the terms of service at facebook and the profile may be deleted and all of your businesses friends will be lost.  A lot of (especially very small) businesses do it, but again we chose a page and won’t waste time repeating the analysis that’s already out there a thousand times.

Customize Your Facebook Business Page – Applications

Customize Your Facebook Business Page – Applications on the Edit Page

The main changes you should make to the applications on your business page are described below along with instructions for adding other applications.  A word of caution about added applications.  Although facebook is known as a fun online meeting place and many people have a lot of whimsical applications like “Farmville” on their personal pages you should exercise restraint when building your business page.

Farce and whimsy are not descriptors you’re likely striving for on your business page (unless you’re actually in the circus business) and facebook often makes unannounced changes that break applications.

Facebook - finding the application editing page
Facebook - finding the application editing page

To get to the edit page from the main page, look in the left column under the page picture and click “Edit Page”

On the edit page each application for your page is displayed as a box like the one highlighted for “Notes” in the image below. Use the links in the application box to edit or modify each as described.

Editing Applications on a Facebook Business Page
Editing Applications on a Facebook Business Page - On the edit page each application for your page is displayed as a box like the one highlighted for "Notes" above. Use the links in the application box to edit or modify each as described below.

“More Applications” – At the bottom of the page the “More Applications” box allows you to choose or search for applications that are not yet installed for your page.  If you can’t locate the edit box for any of the applications described below (like FBML) follow the instructions below to add it.

Click “Browse More” then type your search term (for example FBML) in the search box, enter and choose the desired application (for example “Static FBML by facebook”)

On the LHS under the “?” click add to my page and choose the page you want to add to from the pop-up (if you only have one business page you will only have one choice).

Navigate back to your Edit Page and it will appear under Applications. Click edit to add content or modify the application.

“Settings” – be careful of un-necessarily setting a filter (like age 13+) because if you set any restrictions then no-one who is logged out can find your page in search, or view it and these newbies may be the very people you’re targeting to like you.

it will be hyperlinked automatically when you quit.

“Wall Settings” – “Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else:” This is the first thing new visitors see so set to something more appropriate than wall (probably an FBML page, see below to add)

“Edit Notes” – Add a blog feed either yours or another by clicking “Edit” then adding a feed url like http://costarica-gps.com/feed/

This is a great way to create regular updates on your page without creating original content. If you have a blog that you post to regularly create a feed for it. If you don’t have a blog look around for a popular one that has interest for potential customers and add the feed for that. Every time the blog is updated it will create a summary that is sent from your page to the feeds of your fans.

Add and Edit FBML Custom Page – This is where you can make custom pages like About Us to use as a landing page for non-fans (fans are people who like your page and “liking” used to be called “fanning”)

At the bottom of the Edit Page search for and add FBML as described above in the “More Applications” section.

FBML Made Easy – FBML (Facebook Markup Language) is very powerful and can include animations and complicated interactions if you have a development budget like Coca-Cola, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Simple HTML works in FBML pages and if you have a website you probably already have some HTML that will work.

Choose a webpage that includes the content you want on your FBML page (e.g. “About Us” webpage http://mapcr.com/travel-map/155/Costa-Rica-About-Us.html), right click and chose “View Page Source” Then look for the appropriate section of text and images, copy it and paste it into the FBML box and Viola!

After you’re done set this as your landing page if desired (on Edit page look under “Wall Settings” as described above) and then go to your wall and make sure the tab appears and rearrange them to get it where you want.

Add Another FBML Page – If you have more to say to your visitors you can add more pages. At the bottom of the FBML Edit page there is a link on the left hand side to “Add another FBML box”

Building Your Business’ Facebook Following

Building Your Business’ Facebook Following

None of your efforts will gain you a competitive advantage if no-one “likes” your business page.

The most important aspect of facebook is the multiplicative nature of the exposure and potential for exponential growth.

Simply put your page updates and posts appear on the news feed of each of the people who like you and if they take some action on your post – “like” it (thumbs up), comment on it or add a review or fan photo – then that action shows up on all of their friends news feeds.   If three people with a hundred friends each give you a thumbs up then 300 new people see your page update and have a chance to like your page.

In a twist on the old truism that “any publicity is good publicity,” on facebook it’s even more true, and  “any fan is a good fan.”  Even if you sell doilies for flower arrangers to set their vases on it can’t hurt to have the drummer for a grunge band like your page.  He may not arrange flowers, but his little sister might.

According to the experts there are dozens of effective strategies to increase your circle of social influence and which ones will work best for you depend strongly on the type of business you’re promoting.

We’re just beginning to experiment to find the most effective combination for our map and travel businesses but here’s the plan.  Most of the approaches are incidental, adding a facebook like option to some ongoing activity, but a few are more direct.

Friends and Family

Twenty five likes are required to get started on facebook and they don’t necessarily have to be customers or potential customers, just facebook members.  On your page click “Suggest to Friends” below your page picture on the left hand side.

Make Inbound Links

Once you have 25 likes you can get a URL for your page by visiting http://www.facebook.com/username/

Your URL, vanity name or username is an important choice.  Read the information that facebook provides during sign-up.  You cannot change this later and you should choose something that represents your business and is easy to remember.

Our URL is http://www.facebook.com/costaricaguides and we can use it in text or image links to direct visitors to our page where they’ll see our welcome page and have an opportunity to like the page.

The Event

We’re planning an event at a local coffee house to dole out some free travel advice and promote the Waterproof Travel Map of Costa Rica.  We’ll have a computer set up parked on our facebook page so anyone who attends can like us on the spot.

The Websites

We have a pair of very successful websites – Costa Rica Guide specializes in descriptions of National Parks and beaches, and information for travelers; Map CR provides interactive maps and geocoded information on hotels, resorts, restaurants and activities.

Each has its own facebook page with appropriate feeds and hooks and we’re adding “like us” links to the website templates.

Bookmarking Services

We’ve gone back and forth on link service bars (the ones that allow people to bookmark on digg, stumbleupon, as well as feed or like your webpage) but have basically come to the conclusion that they aren’t worthwhile.

If someone is a bookmarking fanatic they probably have the toolbar installed on their browser and the services we’ve had problems with slow servers delaying our page loads.

For now we’re focusing on direct links to our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/costaricaguides

Giveaways

Each week we give away a free copy of our Waterproof Travel Map of Costa Rica and the New Key to Costa Rica guidebook to someone who’s recently chose to “like” our facebook page.

Become a fan on Facebook and get an instant coupon for free standard shipping or $2 off priority or international shipping.  Make the coupon on Google checkout and put it on an FBML page.

Target the Correct Demographics

Contrary to what Social Media professionals might imply not everyone is on facebook.  There are more women than men and college age users dominate.

There are two ways of thinking about this if your customers don’t match facebook demographics.  Either you’ll be targeting a minority at facebook (even a minority of 5 hundred million can be a pretty big number) or choosing the part of your brand that appeals to the majority and emphasizing that part on facebook.

We do both.

Toucan maps knows their customers are a minority on facebook.  Baby boomer males who still want a printed map in hand when they head to a foreign country.

Costa Rica guide travel services emphasizes active adventures that appeal to college students or young families.

E-mail Lists – Newsletters

If you have an e-mail list suggest that the subscribers like you on facebook.

We sent out a fairly compelling e-mail offering a chance to win a free map and guidebook for Costa Rica to anyone who became a fan on facebook.

Our list is quite well targeted and our members quite engaged.  The open rate (what percent of the people we sent the message to actually opened it) for the mailing was 39% (17% is the travel industry average) and the click rate on the facebook link was about double the industry average as well.

We created a special landing page on facebook for the offer.

1,700 e-mails generated 140 new fans.  We were a little disappointed in the results but some people with a lot more experience in social media have told us they weren’t bad at all.   We’ll reserve judgment until we see if those fans contribute to our growth exponent on facebook.

E-Mail Signature

Add an image or text link in your e-mail signature. e.g.

Like Costa Rica Guide on Facebook

Gaining “Fans” or “Likes” Within Facebook

Each time you make an update to your page it’s broadcast to people who already like you, and if they like or comment on your update it’s broadcast to all of their connections most of whom probably haven’t liked your page yet.

Push or Pull Content Onto Facebook

Youtube is the best, a good blog/website second, flicker third.  There’s probably not much point in bothering with anything else except perhaps twitter.

If you can get other people to push content onto your page all the better.  We’re working on a personalized e-mail campaign to encourage past travelers to post reviews and “fan photos”  on our page.

Reactive Content

You need content that compels people to interact with it – easier said than done but it’s what you need.  Sodium and Potassium not Argon.  Remember that it’s the facebook users’ interaction with your page that gives you exposure whether that’s someone initially liking your page or commenting on or liking something you post.

Don’t annoy your existing fans in your attempt to get new ones.

It Doesn’t Need to be Your Content

CHECK TO MAKE SURE HOW THIS WORKS…I think you can borrow popularity from other content.  People can like your post of something without liking the something.  This exposes you to their friends.

Fake/Real Profile to Harvest Friends to Convert to Fans

A very common strategy is to create a personal profile – either a real profile for a person like the owner or pr director or a fake profile for the business – then seek friends instead of fans (“likes”).   The savvy then try to convert the friends of the profile into fans of their page. This blatantly violates facebook’s terms of service (only real people can have profiles) but apparently it’s effective because from casual observation this is how many if not the majority of small players build their following.

It’s easier to collect friends for a fake profile than likes for a legitimate page because the profile can send friend requests directly to strangers.  Facebook attempts to throttle this because they don’t want a bunch of social spam – fake profiles bugging people to friend them – and because facebook makes money selling promotional space for the purpose of bugging people.

If you send too many unrequited friend requests you’ll be blocked from sending more.  It’s fairly easy to circumvent this restriction by doing some profiling of the potential friends before you send the requests.  For example if someone has 2,700 friends and a quarter of them look like businesses it’s pretty safe to assume that they aren’t really that popular and simply accept any request that comes their way.

If you’re going to try it just remember that facebook can and does erase these non-personal profiles without warning.

The Contest

What goes in the Top Ten?  Make a page for each of the top 15 and let people “like” them into the book.

@costaricaguides

According to mashable using another user or page’s name in a status update will make a clickable link to their page or profile in your update.  It’s a quick easy way to interact, and if you use it in a personal update to point at your business page could result in more likes for your business page.

Facebook Critical Mass

What is a Facebook Critical Mass?

Critical mass on facebook is the number of followers (fans and/or friends) you need to buy (either by advertising on facebook or elsewhere or by investing in content or gimmicks) before facebook can start paying off for you.

From a business and marketing perspective the point of facebook is to use a funnel of existing websites, e-mail lists and/or marketing equity to build your following until the actions of your followers cause your following to grow without input from you.  Once you reach this tipping point or critical mass you can invert the funnel and instead of (or in addition to) sending visitors to facebook you can harvest visitors from facebook and sending them to your website, e-mail lists etc. where you can convert them into clients.

What’s Your Business’ Critical Mass?

Use this handy dandy calculator to figure out how many followers (fans and/or friends) you need to buy before facebook can start paying off for you.

Factors in the facebook critical mass calculation

Profit calculation

  • Value of a Sale
  • Normal rate of conversion from your website or other channels

Signal to noise

  • Number of friends people who like your page have (250 is the default)
  • Quality of your facebook posts – how likely is it that one of your fans will interact with your post to provide you with the multiplier
  • Quantity of your facebook posts
  • Quality of your reverse funnel – how likely is it that you’ll be able to get multiplier fans back off of facebook and onto your homepage
  • Mutual admiration society – if you can connect with a few people or businesses that are willing to like and comment on your content in exchange for you doing the same on theirs you can multiply the interactivity of your content.

demographics

  • tough if you’re targeting conservative retirees
  • teenagers are much more interactive

Actions and Reactions On Facebook

Or “How What You Do Shows Up (or Doesn’t) On Other Peoples’ Facebook”

If you’re on facebook to promote your business then you’re probably saying something positive about your product at some point, but you’re also spending money and energy on “being social” – posting photos and videos, answering questions, interacting with customers or potential customers, collecting reviews and maybe running a contest or other promotion to generate interest and increase your fan base.

Absolutely the most confusing thing about facebook for business promotion is trying to figure out what impact your actions have – or perhaps more importantly what impact it doesn’t have.

We aren’t absolutely certain that we’ve got this right and behaviors change randomly and without documentation but below are some guidelines to get exposure.

Actions You Can Take

Action: Post an Update

where: Business Page’s Wall

where: Your Admin Profile Wall

where: Someone Else’s Wall

Action: Create a New Photo Album

where: Business Page’s Wall

where: Your Admin Profile Wall

Action: Change Your Profile Picture

where: Business Page
reaction: Your profile thumbnail changes everywhere it appears. We saw one page that changed their profile picture to a bold red “SALE” image when they wanted to draw attention to a special deal starting on their page.

where: Your Admin Profile
reaction: Your profile thumbnail changes everywhere it appears and a small notification shows up on your friends newsfeeds.

Action: Tag a Friend in a Photo in Your Albums

where: Business Page
reaction: Your photo and its caption shows up on the someone’s newsfeed with a link back to your page’s album.  This can be used to your advantage if you make friends with “fake” profiles.

It is one of the few ways that your Business Page can “post” something to someones wall and is less obtrusive and obvious than using @ (see @ below)

There is little point in doing this from your Admin Profile.  The idea is to expose your business page to the Friends of your Friend.

Action: @

where: A Friend’s Wall
reaction: You can create a link to your Business Page on your Friend’s Wall by typing @vanityname (in our case it would be @costaricaguides).  The Friend does not have to be a fan of the business page.

where: The Wall of a Page that you like
reaction: You can also create a link to your Business Page on someone else’s Business’ Wall by typing @vanityname (in our case it would be @costaricaguides).  Your Admin Profile must Like the page before you can post on its wall and some Business Wall’s preferences are set to prohibit posting.

Actions You Can Encourage Others To Take

Action: Post an Update

where: Business Page’s Wall
reaction: When someone posts an update on your Business Page’s Wall it shows up on their Wall and their Friend’s Walls! ************** Is this right? *****************