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Don’t let your Facebook page die – interact with it

May 17, 2010

This column originally ran in “The Idea Corner” in the April 2 print edition of the Birmingham Business Journal.

FacebookFacebook is no longer that social networking site for kids. It passed Google in March for front page visits. It has more than 400 million active users, making it the third largest “country” in the world.

And yet, your company has no presence on it. Or worse, it started a fan page months ago, only to let it die a slow public death.

What went wrong?

1. Facebook is a gigantic community, and you became lost in it. No one knew you had a fan page, and even your own fans forgot that they had joined it some time ago.

You forgot that you’re a tiny pebble in an ever-growing ocean. That’s not a problem; that’s an opportunity, but only if you make it happen.

2. Your fan page was the goal, not the medium. Putting up a fan page on Facebook is like installing a phone line. Congratulations: You now have the most basic component of communication on your desk that will do absolutely nothing by itself.

The phone is for you to call prospective customers, order supplies, schedule meetings, buy advertising, answer questions and connect with the world at large. What can you do with your fan page?

3. Your fan page is all about you, not your fans. Sure, fan page implies it’s about the company that set it up: your brand, your new products, your crazy giveaways. But in the world of social media, it’s really about them, the loyal Facebook users who might stop by your page if you’re lucky.

You may have spent a lot of time talking about your company and not with fans. You went for the easy sell over the long-term engagement. And you pushed away the very people who tried to embrace you publicly.

How should we fix our Facebook fan page?

1. Know your place. You are but one of hundreds of thousands of fan pages vying for time and attention. You can stand out with good updates and interaction, which we’ll discuss below. You can stand out with consistent marketing. That’s right: You not only need to market your company, your Web site and your products, but also your Facebook page.

One way to make it easier: After you pull in at least 25 fans, customize the link. For example:

2. Know your real goal. Your company’s goal shouldn’t be “Set up a Facebook fan page.” It should be something like “Use Facebook to reach potential customers on an ongoing basis,” or “Understand and solve customers’ needs and complaints through interaction on Facebook fan page.”

Setting up a page is easy. It takes 10 minutes and zero strategy. Executing a business-building strategy with social media takes specific measurable outcomes, time and persistence. Remember: Your phone is a tool; use it to make your company grow. Your Facebook fan page is a tool, too. Use it.

3. Know your fans. That means every interaction is about them, not you. Every update is designed to brighten their day, solve their issue or hear them out. Your Web site does a fine job of product brochure; does your Facebook page need to duplicate that function?

Make sure you invite your fans to speak their mind. (Your phone accepts calls, not just places them, right?) And absolutely answer them when they take time to comment. (If you don’t answer the phone, why do you have one?)

Strip away sales pitches and see if you have anything left to say. If not, you have a much bigger problem than your Facebook image.

A company with a good product and tight focus could even get away with having just a Facebook fan page in lieu of an independent Web site. But only if it knows how to be neighborly in the world’s largest social media country.

Photo by spencereholtaway / CC BY-ND 2.0

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More tips for Facebook.

Free worksheet.

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