Why Use Facebook As Your Business Page?

If you’re Administering a Business Page on Facebook I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot of visual changes. Most people don’t like change, so each time Facebook switches it up on us there is usually a moan heard across the internet as everyone settles down and gets used to the new look and feel of it.

This time there is one change the businesses should be elated about: The ability to use Facebook AS your business. If you haven’t done it yet, here’s how:

Right under your Administrator Image in the Top Right Corner is “Use Facebook As Your Page” This allows you to roam Facebook as your business making helpful comments or suggestions to Fans AND other Businesses. I have a collaborator, Frank Deom of VidYourBiz.com, and when I saw the following blog about how powerful online video is I wanted to share it not only with Frank, but with his fans on his page so I posted this:

Hopefully his fans like the information, it helps strengthen Frank’s fan’s belief in online video, and perhaps they’ll come and check out Ariel Marketing Group’s page as well.

Like all great tools I would caution you only to use this one sparingly, as the great benefit of Social Media is allowing companies to BE HUMAN, and your customers want to see and know you as a real person.

Beware of the Acronym

I am not totally against the use of Acronymns, and I understand that in our fastpaced lives sometimes they’re really useful. For instance – no one is going to use the term Compact Disc when CD is the widely accepted shorthand. But something has happened in our business culture; some companies and industries have gone our of their way to create Acronyms where not only are they unnecessary, they confuse the listener. For example:

1. LOL: The internet has caused a rapid increase in the overuse of acronyms because, let’s face it, typing on a phone pad is a pain. Please, stop using this one – perhaps the most overused of all Acronyms.
2. PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors – no one will know your acronym if they don’t even know you exist.
3. NIMBY – Not In My Backyard – Seriously?
4. TIA – Thanks In Advance – If you can’t take the time to write out ‘Thank You in Advance’ you shouldn’t be asking for the favor.
5. ASAP – As Soon As Possible – Be careful using this one in business communications because it comes across as command rather than a request. No one that isn’t in the military likes to be given orders.
6. OOO – Out of Office. Huh?
7. EOD – End of Day. Do we really need this??
8. UPnP – Universal Plug & Play – they must not have worked too hard on this one.
9. S.H.A.G. – Senior Housing Assistance Group – do you see where careless use of acronyms could be a problem?
10. D.P. – Designer Portfolio: this one courtesy of my old company and is an abbreviation rather than an acronym; the entire design industry knows them as Architect Folders and sales reps. had to constantly explain what they were to customers.

I’m not for outlawing all acronyms; if they make communication easier and MOST PEOPLE understand them I say go for it. For instance SCUBA, HGTV and ATM are all widely understood acronyms that make life simpler.

In business, especially if it’s highly specialized, is where most people get into trouble. I constantly caution clients to stop using acronyms if I don’t understand them the first time I encounter them. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to train your clients and new employees as to what they stand for – ditch them. Just because the people in your company understand your acronyms doesn’t mean you should use them. It’s difficult enough explaining what you do in 30 seconds or less – jumbling that speech with acronyms the listener doesn’t understand puts you in danger of losing them permanently.

If you do encounter acronyms you are clueless about, try to clear it up. If your clients need to use this service to understand what you or your website are saying, my guess is they won’t bother.

Where Are You Going

I was raised in very rural Northeastern Pennsylvania by an amazing woman, my Grandmother Doris Chapman McCloskey; she came from a long line of fascinating, independent, strong women and graduated from college in 1925. At 9 years old I went away to attend Milton Hershey School, a boarding school for disadvantaged youth founded by another incredible human being, Milton Hershey of Hershey Chocolate fame. My entire childhood was formed by the legacy of two outstanding human beings who took nothing for granted and saw NOTHING as impossible.

It may be that I will never achieve anything near the incredible success of Milton Hershey, and I certainly do not have to beat the odds that a rural woman growing up in my grandmother’s era faced, but I know that the main reason I have been able to start and grow a business in this feeble economy is because of the lessons of my youth: Found your business on a strong product or service, surround yourself with capable partners, PLAN YOUR STRATEGY, and work your tail off – these are the necessary ingredients for a successful business despite any economic backdrop.

So my question for you is: Where are YOU going this year? What Life’s Lessons will you use to formulate YOUR plan for 2011? You may not have been as lucky as I to have such a unique childhood, but you certainly can find your own heroes. I never stop collecting them: Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Chris Brogan, Gary Vanerchuck… They all help me formulate what I want to get from My Plan.

My partner and I have an ongoing agenda for where we’re headed. We tweak it regularly and discuss that plan weekly. We KNOW that at the end of 2011 we’ll have continued our incredible growth because we’re both committed to where we are going. We may have to change directions if part of planning falters, if so we’ll chart another course. But our goal of continued growth and professional development will remain intact and our adherance to it will be the reason we get where we are going.

This Social Media Thing Ain’t Easy

Because it doesn’t just ‘happen.’ Anyone can throw a FaceBook connect button up on their website and create a business page, but that doesn’t mean squat if you don’t do 2 things:

1. Understand how to go about building an online following.
2. Commit to posting good, interesting content on a DAILY basis, and not just once.

That’s right, a daily basis numerous times a day. Sure it seems like a second job, and yes, you can shrug it off as ‘too much work;’ the savvy ones out there are thrilled that you might because they know how much there is to be gained and how few understand the opportunity Social Media provides.

The painstaking process of ‘Suggesting’ your Facebook Page to friends is NOT the way to build a Facebook or Twitter following – the entire point of Social Media is to get outside your circle. You don’t know the people that you want to follow you – they’re strangers. So, in order to get them to follow you have to give them the chance to “meet you.” How does that happen?

You need to be out there participating in the conversation in a meaningful way on Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and anywhere else your target customer type is hanging out. You need to enter the conversation when you have something meaningful to say. For example, Entrepreneur’s Blog is a place I find a lot of interesting, educational and inspirational information. I go there a lot because their articles or posts draw me in. I have met numerous new “friends” on there that have followed me back to Facebook and Twitter because we connected through our comments on posts. They have sometimes suggested my page or blog to their associates and thus the snowball starts to roll.

Most importantly: you had better have something interesting for them to see when they do follow you back; a page that has been quiet for days will get very few new “Likes.” Good content begets others to “SHARE” your page or repost it on theirs, and thus new followers.

YES, it’s A LOT Of hard work – but no one said success in any venue would be easy. Just like old school advertising, effective Social Media marketing takes consistency, discipline and hard work. This is just a whole lot more targeted and inexpensive.

Your Customers Want to Know You

Sure, it may not be possible for your customers to know YOU personally, depending upon how large your company is and how vast the geography you sell to, but they want to know what makes your company tick. First and foremost, they want to know how YOU can help THEM. Then they want to know, in more detail, how that process works. Lastly, if you’ve convinced them on any level that you might be of service, they want to know how you’ve helped others.

Companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars crafting an image they want their customers to believe is who they are, but Social Media has raised our ‘consumer’s IQ’ and no amount of money can hide what your company’s about from a determined customer. What your Social Media efforts, website, blog and all that jazz is ABOUT is letting the customer get to know your company.

When a referral or interested party comes my way the first thing I do is ask: Are you on Facebook? You see, they will automatically check out my website and that’s a great cataloge of our work and explanation of what we do, but Facebook/Twitter is a way for our clients and prospects to have a continuing conversation with us about what we do and how it may impact their business. Anyone can build a good website; Social Media allows anyone to follow what we do and how we think on a daily basis; are we creative, consistent, inspirational, but most importantly, are we useful to them? They decide on their own time if we’re worth looking into.

Social Media has done what millions of people are unknowingly grateful for: it has killed hard selling.

So go ahead and start the conversation – invite anyone who is interested to join in. It’s an opportunity for your company to show its best self to the world.

Social Media’s Not Just for Selling

If you pay attention to Seth Godin’s blog (SethsBlog) you’ll read this morning that he is looking for “accomplices” to help for a 7 month long project. Of course I admire Seth, so when I read about the opening I thought “I would love to work with him.” I also thought instantly of how vast the ‘net’ is now for employers looking for help: not only are there 100+ applicants for every slot, but Social Media has made it possible to draw so many more. Wise employers understand this and are casting their net wider than ever before.

I know, I know – there’s a recession going on, but the reality is if you are seeking a highly professional or specialized candidate, it’s STILL tough to find good talent. Heck, it’s tough to find loyal, dedicated employees who take ownership of their job/project no matter what business you’re in, especially if there are management responsibilities involved. Having the power to create a very specific skill requirements and then target potential employees by geographic region is a heck of a lot better than using monster.com and being sent thousands of useless candidates that don’t live in your area or qualify for your opening.

Here’s what Social Media allows you to do:

1. LinkedIn: Not only do you have access to tons of recruiters, you have a simple method of getting the word out to ALL of your connections in one simple message or status update. Additionally, you can post your opening within the groups that your target candidates “hang out.”
2. Facebook: Your company business page is the perfect place to network with your company’s fans & followers; your fans understand what your company is about and are a lot more likely to know what you’re looking for than some random person at a cocktail party. Additionally, why not take out a ‘for hire’ ad right on Facebook: it’s targeted and affordable, and will be seen by hundreds, thousands, or even millions.
3. Twitter: Twitter’s usefulness depends upon how much time you’ve put into developing your community, but if you have put the effort in one 144 character tweet can reach all of your followers in seconds.
4. Blog it: That’s exactly how this post started – Seth used his well read, powerful blog to put his opening out there to the most interested and probably relevant group of people, his followers.

Really, the advice for finding an employee is no different than when you yourself are looking for a job: the best way to find a great one is to get the word out to everyone you know; that’s never been easier than it is now through the Social Media channel.

The ROI of Social Media

This morning Chris Brogan’s blog featured a great post about the misunderstanding of the ROI of Social Media; the basic idea is that anyone who is looking for a simple, hard number for the return on time and money invested is way off track (chrisbrogan). Of course this rang true with me because those of us who utilize Social Media on a regular basis as a tool for both our business and personal lives understand how much value it has. Often business owners struggle to see the value of all of the time and energy their employees put into implementing their Social Media Plan. If a plan is well developed with clear goals in mind and consistent follow through, this is your Return on Investment:

1. The ability to reach millions of internet users, which includes half of the US population, and 70% of those users are on Social Media.
2. The opportunity to have your own voice and create your own message rather than waiting for Traditional Media to craft that message for you, if they even know who you are.
3. A vehicle to draw prospects and customers to your products & services with no geographic or financial restrictions.
4. The ability to HEAR what your customers have to say, if you listen, and enter into a conversation with them, thus building your relationships in ways that were unthinkable a few years back.
5. A tool that allows you to create a highly targeted message that is delivered only to your top prospects at the time they are most likely to see and read it.
6. The ability to stay on top of your industry, the experts & the newcomers, and hear their message without having to spend hours searching for it.

As with all of my ‘lists,’ this one could go on and on, and if the power of this tool isn’t strikingly obvious I will never know how to explain it.

Reach Outside of Your Network

I was once privileged to work for a very wise man named Royce Renfroe who constantly repeated “If we always do what we’ve always done we will always get what we always got.” Frankly, as a sales rep. low on the totem pole in his organization the phrase was annoying and probably overused to the point of losing effectiveness. As my business grew and I was promoted to Sales Management, I really understood just how profoundly this simple thought was to growing your sales.

Fast forward many years to last Sunday evening when I was miraculously close to caught up on my work and browsing through LinkedIn, checking out my connections’ networks – something I know I should do more often. When I take the time to do this I often find people I should already have in my network and it gives me a chance to connect. Sometimes I find that 2 of my connections know each other already and I smile at how small the world actually is. Too often I discover a fundamental mistake within a connection’s network: the obvious list of everyone within their company and industry and very few from outside of it.

Part of networking is of course staying in touch with the people you already know, and Social Media is the perfect platform for this. Continually adding to your network is the other part, and without it your business will become stagnate and whither. This is the deal: if you aren’t regularly reaching outside of your industry and outside of your network you are missing out on:

1. The ability to be introduced to new connections through those you already have.
2. The chance to “get to know” new connections on a different level before you try to work with them.
3. The possiblity of landing in a new industry if god forbid you join the millions who are out of work.
4. Loads and loads of work.

The entire point of networking and growing is to step outside of your comfort zone… to find new friends, new contacts, and new opportunities. This is why “networking groups” abound in the “real world.” When you first started your business you probably spent some time at mixers and Chamber events – you should be mimicking those behaviors online. GET INVOLVED in discussions, look out for those you’d like to be “introduced” to and ask for the connection from someone in your network, and keep bringing in new connections. If you use Social Media in this manner you will grow your network AND your business

Do You Need A Social Media Consultant?

This question was getting kicked around on Linked In and of course there are those folks, usually old school traditional marketers, who like to scoff at the notion of hiring a Social Media Marketing Consultant, and perhaps they have a point: Like all things internet, their are fraudulent con men lurking in dark corners willing to take your hard earned dollars in exchange for thousands of new Facebook fans, 1st place in Google Ranking and a myriad of other schemes.

However, hiring a Marketing Consultant to help develop your marketing strategy & company policy on Social Media, as well as design and analyze the results of specific Social Media campaigns is about as dumb as hiring a CPA to do your company tax returns. The world of Social Media is ever changing – as in EVERYDAY there are new tools & platforms showing up. Most of these may be insignificant, but if you’re not plugged in and aware who will ensure that your company is utilizing the web properly? Is anyone at your company capable of developing out reach campaigns with specific landing pages? Who is getting the word out on every platform that fits your company? Is your website integrated with your Social Media platforms and are there landing pages on your website too? Who is measuring your Return on Investment? Who is developing the next campaign? Are your Blogs posts networked & distributed to the proper channels? Is your company using Press Releases on New Media?

Yes, this list goes on and on. And I’m not saying that every person out there holding themselves out as a “Social Media Guru” or “Expert” should be put on the payroll. But laughing at the prospect of Social Media as an important, strategic part of your marketing plan is as crazy as laughing at the internet as a vehicle for business. That’s what the old school guys did all those years ago…

I Love Skeptics

And you should too. I love presenting to the skeptical, and if you don’t perhaps you need to analyze WHY. First, let me define skeptics – skeptics are not the same as naysayers. Those who are predisposed to doubt the validity of your product or service for no earthly reason other than they like being negative or are too scared to believe that anything can help them are not skeptics; naysayers are to be avoided at all cost and you need to be able to detect them in a matter of minutes so that you don’t spend precious time trying to convert them to no avail.

Skeptics on the other hand are usually smart, cautious and often successful already – before they meet you and your product. Skeptics listen with a partially open mind but are prone to playing devil’s advocate because they are not interested in telling you how wonderful your company is – you need to SHOW them how you will benefit their business in precise and succinct terms. Skeptics are also capable of changing their mind and buying in, and it’s a buy in that is almost always genuine and committed since they do nothing on the fly; their decisions are well thought out and measured. When they say YES to you, they mean it, and often become one of your favorite clients – committed fully to the project once you win their allegiance.

The reason I love skeptics is because I really believe in what I do, and they give me the opportunity to make them believe too. You see, I help companies build their sales funnel and broaden their reach. Sure, we’re a marketing company, but what we really do is help smaller companies find and embrace their voice through the internet and social media. I recently read Gary Vaynerchuck’s CRUSH IT, and there’s a sentence in the beginning part of the book that asks if you can speak about what you do better than anybody else. I still don’t know if I can say BETTER than anyone else, but I certainly can with speak with more passion and earnestness than anyone I’ve met because I truly believe in and am exhilirated by the empowerment Social Media & the Web has brought to small business; I really feel that I am helping a company profoundly when I open their eyes to what is now possible and how now THEY are in control of their own message, or at least can they can have a major voice in the conversation.

So give me a board room full of brilliant, successful business owners who are already wealthy and aren’t looking for me to throw them a life line. Give me an hour to tell them what we can do and what is possible, and I guarantee you it will be my best hour of the day. Love and believe in what you do and that can be every hour of every workday.