Social networking is the key to your writing success. And Facebook is the hottest social network around. Without the clutter of MySpace, Facebook offers easy navigation to help you find fans old and new through friends, groups and fan pages. Through Facebook, you can promote yourself to a more mature demographic – one that reads and has cash to spend. Limiting the number of friends each user can have forces users to target their demographic – a key component to any successful marketing strategy.
Today, I chat it up with Mari Smith, relationship coach and Facebook expert. She has great tips on how to utilize this important social network.
Mari, how did you become a Facebook expert?
My background is as a Relationship Coach. I have certifications in relationship coaching, success coaching and developmental coaching. I've always been fascinating by people and relationships and I have much expertise with many personality assessments. At the same time, since 1999 I've been an internet marketer and have created many successful information products.
I felt I was running a "two-hat" business! So when I became active on Facebook in July 2007, it was such a natural fit for my personality and skillset because my two worlds merged perfectly: relationships + the internet. I quickly immersed myself in Facebook and before long my peers started asking me to teach them how to get started with the platform.
What are the advantages to using Facebook over other social networking sites?
In addition, Facebook's feeds enable members to create consistent visibility among their friends. Plus, members tend to be more responsive when you reach out to connect via a wall post or email, for example.
What are the disadvantages?
If not approached properly, Facebook can be a huge time-drainer. It's vitally important to have a strategic plan, a way to measure your results, limit your time and delegate some of the activities to a trusted assistant.
Applications are a PAIN, but many feel if they ignore a request, or block an application, that it will hurt their social networking savvy on Facebook. Is that true?
Gosh, not at all. I recommend to my students and clients they make best friends with the "ignore all" button! There are simply way too many applications to worry about using/testing them all. When you ignore a request to add an app, the friend who sent you the request doesn't receive a notification. You can block apps, ignore all app requests from specific friends or just use the ignore all button which seems easiest.
Every day, I get three to five emails from the same groups, or individuals on Facebook. I've finally started deleting without opening, because I simply don't have time to read them all. What should Facebook users know about using the email option in the site?
I'd love to see improvements made to Facebook email. It's possible to email any other member on Facebook unless (a) you've blocked them/they've blocked you or (b) they've set their privacy settings to not receive emails from non-friends. So, you could find yourself receiving a LOT of email the more active and visible you are.
Responding to email is one of the primary tasks my Virtual Assistant helps me with.
Many group members send out excessive emails to the point it feels like spam. The simple solution there is to leave the group. If you're a group owner, keep in mind once a week is probably sufficient – and/or be sure to survey your members and ask them what they want to receive.
Is there a way to send a mass email out to everyone in your Facebook network without typing in each name?
No. This is one of the most popular questions I get. Many marketers want to be able to build a "list" and message them all at once. Facebook wasn't designed to be used this way. You can message up to twenty friends at once – but there's no BCC and the default is "reply all." So, often you may find yourself on the receiving end of an email thread that has no relevance to you. My recommendation with emailing lists of friends is to only message people who (a) have a pre-existing relationship or (b) the purpose of the email is to introduce them.
The good news, however, is there are workarounds to reaching your friends en masse. Building out your own group is a popular way as is creating a fan Page. Other workarounds, include staying active to maintain a presence in the News Feeds of your friends.
Facebook offers Fan Page and Group options. Tell us about these and how they work.
A Fan Page is one of Facebook's solutions for business. The idea is you build up fans (as opposed to friends on your personal Profile). Everyone in business should for sure create at least one Page for two primary reasons: (1) the Page gets indexed so can be found on search engines and (2) you'll need another place on Facebook to direct people once you hit the 5000 friend limit. With Pages, you can have unlimited fans.
Groups are also a must-have for business owners. I recommend setting one up for a special interest or particular focus of your business, as opposed to a Group just for your business. The nice thing about groups is they are more informal and members tend to be more active than on a page. However, I do recommend having both at least one Group and one Page for starters.
Facebook ads are becoming more frequent. Do they really work?
It depends. I have read stats that show the click through rate is lower on social network ads because members are not in the mode of searching, unlike on Google. However, Facebook's Social Ads can be a powerful way to increase visibility and notoriety. And, with consistent use, over time you may see a significant increase in click throughs. Ads are also good for promoting a one-time event, for example.
How can you make Facebook ads work for you?
Advertise something that is inside Facebook, not outside. For example, your Page, Event or Group. That way, members don't feel like you're trying to sell them something. So, you can use ads to simply build more awareness of your presence on Facebook and then use the Page, Event and/or Group to further build your relationship with your friends.
Can using Facebook mean better sales?
Absolutely. More and more business members are discovering the power of Facebook to reach targeted clients, set up profitable joint venture partnerships, and deepen relationships with key influencers in their industry. All this leads to an increase in sales.
Are contests effective on Facebook? Can they really drive traffic to your site, or increase your number of friends?
It depends on how well executed the contest is. If a contest also includes promotion on your blog, Twitter, YouTube, press releases, ads, interviews etc. then for sure you could increase your friends. However, would they be key targeted individuals? I'm a huge advocate of building out your friends organically, deliberately and strategically. With over 110 million active users and you can only be friends with 5000 of them, why not choose your friends very, very carefully!
How should you consider working your Facebook presence into your marketing campaign?
I would start with a solid blog with a design that reflects your brand. Import your blog into Facebook using the Notes application. Set up an account on FriendFeed – import every site you're on with an RSS feed. Add the FriendFeed Facebook application.
Give us your top 5 tips to using Facebook.
- Focus on quality relationships, not quantity.
- Import your blog using the Notes application.
- Be active daily, if only for five minutes.
- Include Facebook as part of your overall marketing plan.
- Start a Facebook Page to represent your business, along with your Profile.