How To Grow Your Business Using Facebook

Last week, the owner of a social media consultancy contacted me via LinkedIn to ask for tips on “articulating her Facebook pitch” to prospective clients. She has many clients, she said, who aren’t convinced that they need to have a presence on what is still the most popular social network. This woman clearly knows her stuff, so her inquiry made me realize that even though Facebook has such a dominant presence, many businesses still do not see its full potential.

Last week, the owner of a social media consultancy contacted me via LinkedIn to ask for tips on “articulating her Facebook pitch” to prospective clients. She has many clients, she said, who aren’t convinced that they need to have a presence on what is still the most popular social network. This woman clearly knows her stuff, so her inquiry made me realize that even though Facebook has such a dominant presence, many businesses still do not see its full potential.

My company makes applications for Facebook, so I have very strong opinions about why (most) businesses should be on Facebook. And I have equally strong opinions about how to go about establishing a presence so that a business can grow by using Facebook. So here goes:

Focus On Engagement

The bottom line is that creating “good” status updates is key for increasing engagement with people who are already fans of your brand. Increased engagement with them can, in turn, increase brand awareness to potential fans which can, in turn, lead to a boost in sales. So what makes a good status update? Asking questions and listening to users is essential. (There was a comprehensive post recently on AllFacebook that includes all sorts of helpful tips and best practices, and if you scroll about halfway down the story, you’ll get right to the meat of the tips.) Once you have a decent following — a couple of hundred likes — it’s time to install some apps.

Consider A Contest

When most people hear “Facebook apps,” they think of contests or promotions, because these are proven ways to build a following pretty quickly. If you’re thinking about hosting a contest, make sure to keep a few best practices in mind, including:

• Set goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness or highlight a new product? Or do you want to increase the number of likes on your page? Do you want to boost user engagement, gather user feedback, or develop advocates for your brand? Decide what you will measure before you put up the contest so later you can decide whether or not it worked. And be reasonable! Don’t make your goal something like gain 100,000 new fans (there are some contests that reach huge numbers like this, but it’s not the norm), or you might be disappointed.

• Make it easy. There are four basic types of Facebook contests: sweepstakes, essay, photo, and video. Video, photo, and essay contests provide lots of content for your page, but they also require more effort to enter. Sweepstakes are easiest.

• Choose the right third-party app provider. Facebook explicitly requires businesses to run contests on third-party apps, and it’s nearly impossible to meet all of its other promotions guidelines without one. Make sure the provider you choose offers flexibility, a fair price, and embeddable apps (so you can install your apps on your website and people can use them on mobile devices).

• Offer a relevant prize. A contest should showcase your own products and services. After all, people are coming to your page because they are interested in learning more about what you offer. If want to set yourself apart and grow your business with the right kinds of fans, don’t feel like you have to give away an iPad or an iPhone or anything extravagant.

Create Other Functional Apps

The amazing thing about apps is that with a little creativity, you can create apps that will do just about anything. We use apps in a variety of ways because they help us connect with and learn a little more about our users than we do when we just host contests. A few that are universally helpful:

Recommended articles